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Oxford University Press 

London Edinburgh Glasgow New Tork 

Toronto Melbourne Cape Town Bombay 

Humphrey Milford Publisher to the University 




R. G. D. LAFFAN, C.F. 




C.B., C.M.G. 






The Serbians are a people but little kno\vn in Great 
Britain. This extremely interesting book by the Rev. 
R. G. D, Laffan, C.F. will, I am confident, help our nation 
to understand them better, and, in understanding, to 
appreciate the sterling qualities that underlie their national 

I have lived among the Serbians during the past three 
years, in days, and under circumstances, which encourage 
the revelation of every human attribute : in the days imme- 
diately following their first success, when they triumphantly 
flung out of Serbia the ' Punitive expedition ' of their power- 
ful neighbour and relentless enemy : in long and weary days 
of tenacious defence : in the days of overwhelming and 
treacherous attack upon them, with hope of succour growing 
less and less : in days of terrible marches in a fighting retreat 
through their beloved country under moral and physical 
conditions surely never paralleled in the history of any 
nation : in the days of regeneration of all that was left of 
them : and finally in days of eager and reckless fighting 
to regain that which they had lost. The qualities which 
they have displayed throughout these fateful years should 
especially appeal to the inhabitants of our Empire. 

A love of freedom and country as deeply implanted as our 
own. A loyalty to friends that does not falter under the 
greatest temptation, and a chivalry so innate that hundreds 

2 Foreword 

of our countrywomen could walk hundreds of miles through 
a great army in a harassed retreat, through a fleeing peasantry 
in a disorganized and strange land, and yet fear no evil. 

'From sych experiences a judgement can be formed; I 
permit myself, with the Serbians, to believe in a Serbia 
great and flourishing in the future, pursuing her national 
development and ideals in peace and quietness, bound to 
Great Britain in the closest ties of friendship, and once 
more — as for centuries past — holding the gate of freedom 
of life, of freedom of thought, against the sinister forces 
of moral enslavement. 

Serbia has indeed well and bravely answered the great 
question He asked : 'What shall it profit a man if he gain 
the whole world and lose his own soul ? ' 

E. T. T. 


To pass away the winter evenings in the early months of 
1917 I gave a series of lectures on modern Serbian history 
to the scattered companies of the A.S.C. (M.T.), who are 
attached to the Serbian Army. Many of the men of the 
companies showed great interest in the subject, and, as we 
approached the end of the course, a number of them asked 
me to publish the lectures. So I have written the following 
chapters from the lecture-notes, intending them primarily 
as a souvenir for those who are now with the Serbs, but also 
in the hope that they may serve to spread sympathy for our 
heroic but little-known allies. 

The title, ' the Guardians of the Gate ', is borrowed from 
a phrase applied to the Serbs by several speakers, in particular 
by Mr. Lloyd George in his speech on August 8. It is a 
summary of the services which the Serbs have always done 
their best to render to Christendom : for their country is, 
indeed, one of the gateways of civilized Europe. Despite 
their unhappy divisions and their weakness in numbers they 
have never ceased to struggle against the barbarisms of 
Turkestan and Berlin, which at different times have 
threatened to overflow the Western nations and the Medi- 
terranean lands. 

The lectures did not attempt a detailed survey of even 
recent years, and their publication may seem superfluous 
in view of the number of books lately produced on Balkan 

4 . Preface 

topics. Yet attention in England has been so largely and 
naturally directed to the west of Europe and to Russia that 
it is still possible to encounter the most complete ignorance 
of the Eastern Question. There are many who have a 
working knowledge of the great nations of Europe who still 
could scarcely distinguish between a Sandjak and a Dardanelle, 
or say off-hand whether the Balkan peoples were Christians 
or worshippers of Mumbo Jumbo. And the history of south- 
eastern Europe in the present century is so obscure in its 
details that there is much excuse for those who could not 
be bothered to understand it. Yet the vital interests of 
the British Empire are so bound up with the Near East 
that every effort should be made to present British readers 
with facts on which an opinion may be based. Not that 
it is yet possible to write the history of such recent years 
or of so complicated a subject with the scientific and 
impartial accuracy of the true historian. For that we must 
wait until the dust of conflict has cleared and the passions 
of the moment have subsided. Meanwhile, these lectures 
are offered as a provisional and tentative examination of the 
triumphs, disasters, and ambitions of the Serbs. 

The chief difficulty in the way of gathering historical 
material during a campaign in the uplands of Macedonia con- 
sists in the lack of books. Especially has this been true of books 
giving the views of our enemies. However, I have read 
everything upon which I could lay my hands, and the lack 
of printed matter has been perhaps, to some extent, balanced 
by the advantage of meeting with and questioning numerous 
Serbian officers ard others who know the Balkans well. 

Preface 5 

As regards spelling, in a work for students it would be 
necessary to use the ' Latinitza '. But for non-expert 
readers experience here seems to show that the Croatian 
alphabet with its accented consonants is only a degree less 
difficult than the Serbian letters themselves. So I have 
transliterated Southern Slav names and quotations from the 
Serbian into the corresponding English sounds. The follow- 
ing very simple rules will be easily remembered. 

a pronounced as the a in father. 





„ ate. 





,, meet. 





,, moon. 





,, azure. 

In all the Southern Slav territories I have used the Slavonic 
place-names, with the exception of a few very farai^ir names 
such as Belgrade, Monastir, Scutari, and the Danube. 
When referring to Southern Slav authors, whose books are 
quoted, I have thought it best to leave their names as they 
appear on the title-pages of the books in question. 

I wish to take this opportunity of imitating many genera 
tions of Oxford men in expressing my gratitude for the un- 
failing sympathy and help of which Mr. C. R. L. Fletcher, of 
Magdalen, is so prodigal ; and in particular for his kindness on 
this occasion in undertaking to see my MS. through the press. 

It is also my pleasant duty to thank Privates Tillett and 
Thomson for drafting the maps ; as also Corporals Taylor 
and Hughes, and Privates Biggs, Lorenzelli, and Dixon for 
typing the MS. in triplicate, a precaution rendered necessary 
by the enemy's submarines. Also, lastly, Lt.-Col. W. L. 

6 Preface 

Sorel, D.S.O., and the Officers commanding the companies, 
and Lt.-Col. A. E. Kidd, R.A.M.C, commanding Stationary 
Hospital, who gave me every facility for delivering the 



M.T. Units with Royal Serbian Army, 
British Salonika Force. 
September 19, 191 7. 



Publications consulted 
Introduction to the Lectures 

1. The Past 

2. To the Treaty of Berlin 

3. The Change of Dynasty 

4. Yugoslavia . 

5. The Turkish War 

6. The Bulgarian War 

7. The Murder at Sarajevo 

8. The Austrian War 

9. The Downfall 
ID. The Return of the Exiles 
II, To-day: The Serbian People and their 

Aspirations ..... 
Appendix : Statistical Table of Various Reckon 
ings of the macedonian population 













King i'eter ........ 

Macedonian Peasants dancing .... 

A Macedonian Peasant Family 

Aftovtzi in Hcrtzegovina 1917. How Austria-Hungary 

retains the loyalty of the Yugoslavs . 
Monastir from the Air ..... 

Sarajevo {Photograph — Central News) 

Corfu ........ 

Corfu — Infantry of Vardar Division re-equipped an 

reconstituted ... ... 

Embarking at Corfu for Salonika 

In the Moglena Mountains .... 

The Tserna Valley ...... 

A Billet behind the Line, Macedonia 

Lonely Serbian Graves ..... 

The First Day of the Offensive in September. From 

left to right, General Vasitch, General Sarrail, 

General Boyovitch . . . . . 

.^t H.-Q. M.T. Units. The Bishop of Buckingham on 

left. The Author second from right . 
Kaymakchalan ....... 

Bulgarian Trenches on Kaymakchalan 

The First Prayer on Serbian soil 191 6 

Reading out orders ...... 

The Crown Prince Alexander and General Sarrail 

entering Monastir ...... 

Corfu. The Kaiser's Villa, used as a Serbian hospital 
Skoplye (Uskub) ....... 


to face page 64 

„ 64 

„ 104 


„ 160 


„ 229 

» 232 

» 232 









The Balkans in 1900 
The Balkans in 1914 
The Macedonian Campaign of 191 6 






[Works of peculiar interest are marked with an asterisk.] 

Printed Documents 

Collected diplomatic documents relating to the outbreak of the European War. 

London, 1915. 
Le Livre bleu Serb e. Ed. Berger-Levrault. Paris, 1914. 
Deuxieme Lime bleu serbe. Ed. Berger-Levrault. Paris, 1916. 
Nashi u Austro-Ugarskoy. Issued by Serbian Ministry of the Interior. 

Salonika, 1917. 

Historical, Political, and Economic Works 
*E. Denis. La Grande Serbie. (Serbophil.) Paris, 1915. 
*H. W. V. Temperley. History of Serbia. London, 1917. 
*'A Diplomatist.' Nationalism and War in the Near East. Oxford, 

*A. Stead (edited by). Servia by the Servians. (A survey of the national 

life by leaders in' various departments.) London, 1909. 
*N. Forbes. Parts I and II of The Balkans. A History. (Impartial 

between Serbia and Bulgaria.) Oxford, 191 5. 
G. Yakschitch. V Europe et la resurrection de la Serbie (1804-34). 

Paris, 1907. 
*M. Newbigin. Geographical aspects of Balkan problems. London, 1915. 
P. de Lanux. La Tougoslavic. Paris, 191 6. 
R. P. Guerin-Songeon. Histoirc de la Bulgarie. (Pro-Bulgarian.) Paris, 

*H. Wickham Steed. The Hapsburg Monarchy, 3rd edition. London, 


*R. W. Seton-Watson. The Southern Slav question. London, 191 1. 

W. M. Petrovitch. Serbia. London, 1915. 

W. M. Sloane. The Balkans. New York, 1914. 

*V. Berard. La Serbie. (A lecture.) Paris, 191 6. 

10 Publications consulted 

M. Militchevitch. Pomenik znanienitih lyudi i Srpskog naroda. Belgrade, 

J. Cvijic (Tsviyitch). Protnatranya o etnografiyi Makedonskih Slovena. 

Belgrade, 1906. 
*H. N. Brailsford. Macedonia. London, 1906. 
*I. E. Gueshoff. The Balkan League. (The Bulgarian case, by the former 

Bulgarian Prime Minister.) London, 1915. 
*' Balcanicus.' La Bulgarie. (The Serbian case, by a Serbian Minister. 

Paris, 1915. 
K. Stojanovitch. Etat economique de la Serbie. Belgrade, 1909. 
A. Muzet. Le Monde balkaniqiie. Paris, 1917. 
J. Pelissier. Dix inois de guerre dans les Balkans. Paris, 1914. 
A. Cheradame. Doiize aits depropagande enfaveur des peuples balkaniques. 

Paris, 19 13. 
W. H. Crawfurd Price. The Balkan Cockpit. London, 1915. 
General Niox. Les Pays balkaniques. Paris, 1915. 
S. P. Phocas Cosmetatos. Au lendemain des guerres balkaniques. (An 

economic study.) Paris, 1915. 
*P. V. Savii. The Reconstruction oj South-Eastern Europe. London, 1917. 
R. A. Reiss, Austro-Hungarian Atrocities. Report. London, 1916. 
N. and C. R. Buxton. The War and the Balkans. London, 1915. 
R. W. Seton-Watson. Chapters IV and VII in The War and Democracy. 

London, 1914. 
*R. W. Seton-Watson. The Balkans, Italy and the Adriatic. London, 

*A. Cheradame. The Pangerman Plot Unmasked. London, 1917. 
V. Kuhne. Ceiix dont on ignore le martyre. (Yugoslavs.) Geneva, 1917. 
W. H. Crawfurd Price. Venizelos and the War. London, 19 17. 
H. Hinkovic. The Jugoslavs in Future Europe. London, 1916. 
Anon. Austro-Magyar Judicial Crimes. (1908-16.) London, 1916. 
*M. Dunan. L' Invasion de la Serbie et la retraite d'Albanie. (Based on 

information supplied by the Serbian General Staff.) Salonika, 1917. 

Travel, Reminiscences 

M. E. Durham. The Burden oj the Balkans. Ed. Nelson, is. (Macedonia, 

Albania in 1904.) London, n. d. 
A. Upward. The East End oJ Europe. London, 1908. 

Publications consulted ii 

H. Vivian. The Serbian Tragedy. (Appreciation of King Alexander.) 

London, 1904. 
H. Barby. Les Victoires serbes. Paris, 1913- 
A. Fraccaroli. La Serbia nella sua terza giierra. Milan, 1915. 
C. Sturzenegger. La Serbie en guerre. 1914-16. Neuchatel, 1916. 
H. Angel!. Le Soldat serbe. (Translated from the Norwegian.) Paris, 

J. Berry. The Story of a Red Cross Unit in Serbia. London, 1916. 
*G. Gordon Smith. Through the Serbian Campaign. London, 1916. 
R. Labry. AvecVarmee serbe en retraite. Paris, 1916. 
St. C. Stobart. The Flaming Szvord in Serbia and elsewhere. London, 1917. 
A. and C. Askew. The Stricken Land. London, 19 16. 
Ferri-Pisani. Le Drame serbe. Paris, 1916. 

F. Sandes. An English Woman-sergeant in the Serbian Army. London, 



Fr. N. Velimirovid. Serbia in Light and Darkness. London, 1916. 
L. d'Orfer. Chants de guerre de la Serbie. Paris, 1916. 
Yugoslavia. An Anthology in Serbian. Salonika, 1917. 
M. A. Miigge. Serbian Folk-Songs, Fairy Tales, and Proverbs. London, 


Fr. N. Velimiroviif. Religion and Nationality in Serbia. London, 19 15. 
P. Popovic. Serbian Macedonia. London, 1916. 
The Southern Slav Library. London, 1916. 

1. The Southern Slav Programme. 

2. The Southern Slavs : Land and People. 

3. A sketch of Southern Slav History. 

4. Southern Slav Culture. 

5. Idea of Southern Slav Unity. 

6. Political and Social Conditions in Slovene Lands. 

*J. W. Headlam. Belgium and Greece. London, 1917. 

G. Lazarevitch. Sa Srpskog fronta. Salonika, 19 16. 




"When we arrived at Salonika last summer, most of us 
were entirely ignorant of the Balkan peninsula. Since then 
we have lived and worked in Macedonia, and I believe that 
you have formed no very high opinion of the country ; 
•which is not surprising when we remember that it has been 
the most troubled and insecure part of the Balkans for the 
last forty years. We are still more than vague about the 
inhabitants, the states, the economic condition and the 
history of the peninsula. But one thing we have all learned. 
We have been in close touch with the Serbian soldier, and 
we admire and love him. He has been a revelation to us of 
the charm of a people very unlike ourselves. 

In the past most Englishmen, who have spoken to me 
about the Balkans, have expressed very decided views. 
Nine out of ten have said that all the Balkan nations were as 
bad as each other ; that, as between Turks and Christians, 
it was six of one and half-a-dozen of the other ; that all were 
savages and cut-throats and past praying for. The tenth 
man has usually been a philanthropic crank, who would only 
see good points in his own pet Balkan nation, and who 
wished to make it by industrialization and party politics 
into an imitation of Great Britain. 

14 Introduction to the Lectures 

Now, when we return to England, we shall, at any rate, 
be in a position to declare that we found one Balkan race, 
the Serbs, to consist of the best of fellows. Our companies 
have had Serbs attached to them, as guards or drivers, 
and very sorry we were when they were withdrawn. Though 
most of us could not say anything to them except ' Dobro ' 
(good), we managed to understand them, and to make 
ourselves understood. They were always cheerful, kindly, 
helpful, with a skill in many handicrafts that made camp-life 
more comfortable for themselves and us. And I think we 
may flatter ourselves that they liked us and our ways, and 
found the British character sympathetic with their own. 

But, though first-hand acquaintance with some Serbs 
is essential to any knowledge of the people, I believe that 
you would like also to understand something of the nation's 
past and of the mental background from which the Serbs 
view the world. It is for that reason that I have undertaken 
to deliver these lectures. They will deal with the history 
of the Serbs in recent times ; because it is impossible to 
understand the characteristics and point of view of a people, 
especially a people so nationalist and traditionalist as the 
Serbs, apart from their history. 

On the other hand, I do not propose to go into the 
mediaeval glories of the Serbian emperors, the self-sacrificing 
educational work of St. Sava, the conquests of Stephen 
Dushan, or the exploits of Kralyevitch Marko and other 
heroes of the race. It would take too long, and I do not think 
it would greatly interest you. But it will be necessary 
throughout to remember that the Serbs look back with pride 
to the great days of their independence in the Middle Ages, 
and to their empire which once embraced the whole Balkan 
peninsula, except southern Greece and the coast-towns. 

Introduction to the Lectures 15 

They were a great people six hundred years ago. Never 
have they been more glorious than in their present humilia- 
tion, exile, and disruption. But, please God, that spiritual 
glory which encircles them to-day will soon be expressed 
in the ' outward and visible signs ' of material greatness, 
and they will again take their place among the mighty 
nations of the earth." 


The Past 

Iz mrachnoga sinu groba 

Srpske krune novi siai. 

' Out of the darkness of the tomb j ^' 

Shines the new lustre of the Serbian crown.' 

Serbian National Anthem. 

It is best to begin with geography. Several permanent 
elements in Serbian history become apparent as soon as 
we study the map. The first point that strikes us is the 
mountainous nature of the country, only relieved by a few 
plains, as in the Matchva to the north-west, the plain of 
Kossovo, the valley of the Morava, or the Monastir plain. 
The whole trend of the country north of Skoplye (Uskub) 
is a well-wooded and irregular slope down towards the 
Danube and the Save, into which flow the rivers of Serbia, 
familiar to the M.T. companies from the names of the 
military divisions — the Timok, the Drina, and the Morava, 
with its two branches and its tributary, the Ibar. South of 
Skoplye the country consists of a tangle of uplands to the 
west, and the Vardar valley to the east, leading down 
towards the great Greek harbour of Salonika. 

There are three distinguishable parts of Serbia, to which 
I shall refer under the following names — ' Serbia proper ', 
'Old Serbia', and 'Serbian Macedonia'. By 'Serbia 
proper ' I mean the roughly triangular little State which 
we knew as Serbia before 191 2, bounded on the north by 
the Danube, on the east by the Timok and the Balkan 
Mountains, and on the west and south by the Drina and the 
old Turkish frontier running north of Mitrovitza and south 

2071 B 

i8 The Past 

of Vranya. By ' Old Serbia ' I mean the central belt round 
Skoplyc, Kumanovo, and the Kossovo plain, including the 
old Sandjak of Novi Pazar, which ran up to the Bosnian 
frontier. Here are the towns and sacred places of mediaeval 
Serbia ; Skoplye, where Stephen Dushan was crowned 
emperor ; Fetch (Ipck),i the ancient see of the Serbian 
patriarchs ; Detchani, the famous monastery and home of 
Serbian traditions ; Kossovo, where the Serbian power 
went down before the Turks. By ' Serbian Macedonia ' 
I mean the middle Vardar valley below Veles and the hilly 
country which lies between that and the lake of Ohrida. 

Three further general remarks about the geography of 
Serbia ought to be made at this point. First, the great 
importance of the position which the country occupies. 
The Balkan peninsula consists largely of barren uplands and 
mountain ranges producing little in the way of valuable 
merchandise. But across it run at least two great trade- 
routes, from Belgrade to Salonika and from Belgrade to 
Constantinople, connecting Central Europe with the Aegean 
Sea and the East. There have been other routes, but to-day 
the peninsula is traversed by only two main railway lines 
which follow the two routes I have mentioned. These two 
corridors open the way through the inhospitable country 
and connect the rich plains of Hungary with the Levantine 
world. They are also the lines along which invasion has 
poured from East to West or from West to East many times 
in the course of history. And the Balkan peninsula is 
peculiarly open to invasion. Spain and Italy are shut off 
and protected from their northern neighbours by great 
mountain barriers, while on every other side they are washed 
by the waters of broad seas. The northern frontiers of 
^ Fetch was included in Montenegro in 1913. 

The Past 19 

Bosnia, Serbia, and Bulgaria consist only of rivers, mainly 
running through low-lying country, while to the south-east 
the narrow straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles 
have not constituted a formidable obstacle to an enemy 
possessed of the Asian shore. The gates of the peninsula, 
therefore, have not been closed to the hostile foreigner, and 
the corridors which penetrate it have aroused his cupidity. 
Foreign Powers, Roman, Frank and Ottoman, Austrian, 
Russian, and German, have desired and determined to 
control the overland routes of the Balkan countries. 

Now, athwart those lines of communication and com- 
manding the north-western portions of both, lies Serbia. 
Invading armies m.oving west from Asia or east from Central 
Europe must pass over Serbian territory. The little country 
stands in a position of world importance. She holds a gate- 
way between the mountain walls, and therefore she is in 
a situation of the utmost danger. Her stormy history, the 
long centuries of her subjection to foreign rule, and her 
present disastrous condition show how her more powerful 
neighbours have coveted the passage-ways which she 

Secondly, alone with Switzerland amongst European 
states, Serbia has no outlet to the sea. Naturally this has 
been an overwhelming commercial disadvantage, and has 
terribly handicapped Serbia as compared with Roumania 
or Bulgaria, not to mention Greece, which is really a mari- 
time state, with a population living on or around the 

The full effect of this disadvantage was felt by Serbia 
when she began to develop her natural resources towards 
the close of the nineteenth century. Apart from Bulgaria 
and Turkey, neither of whom was rich or civilized, she had 

B 2 


The Past 

I no customer for lier exports except Austria-Hungary. 

iSurrounding Serbia from the Carpathians to the Sandjak 
of Novi Pazar, Austria-Hungary received almost the whole 
of Serbia's trade and consequently tended to assume the 
part of dictator to the little state, which she was able to 
threaten with commercial starvation should her wishes not 
be docilely obeyed. Serbia in fact was for many years in 
the Austrian grip. 

Thirdly, let us remember throughout that only a part of 
the Serbian race lives in Serbia. Bosnia and Hertzegovina 
are Serbian lands. Out of less than 1,900,000 inhabitants, 
over 1,820,000 are Serbo-Croats.^ Almost the whole 
population of the Austrian province of Dalmatia is Serbo- 
Croat, while the Slovenes of the country round Lyublyana 
(Laibach), though devotedly Roman Catholic and so divided 
from the Serbs on religious grounds, are Slavs and use a 
language closely akin to Serbian. Hungary, too, has its 
large percentage of the same race. In the Banat, Batchka, 
and Syrmia is a pure Serbian population, at one with the 
Serbs in language and religion and numbering over a million. 
Also in Croatia and Slavonia there are the Croats, Roman 
Catholic in religion, but using the Serbian language, 
though written in the Latin or western characters, not in 
the Cyrillic alphabet of Serbia. Lastly, the little state of 
Montenegro differs on no test of race, language, or r3ligion 
from Serbia, and its inhabitants are but an independent 
and allied portion of the Serbian nation. 

Consequently, of recent years when Serbia showed signs 
of growing strength and vitality, not unnaturally many of 
her friends expected her to play a great role in the future 
and to be the nucleus round which a state should grow up, 

^ The New Europe, No. 21, p. 256, March 8, 1917. 

The Past 21 

embracing all the Slav peoples of southern Austria-Hungary, 'p;etLw/>^^ 
as well as the Serbian portions of the old Turkish Empire. 9y(J\}<^ 
There have been many obstacles to the fulfilment of such 
a hope. Quite apart from the present catastrophe that has 
overtaken our Serbian friends, the religious difficulty still 
exists, though similarity of race and speech have drawn 
Catholics and Orthodox into the common movement. Also 
the Slavs of the Dual Monarchy in Croatia have felt them- 
selves the superiors of the Serbs in civilization, and have 
been unready whole-heartedly to seek national salvation at 
Belgrade. But the tyranny of the Hungarian Government, 
which has done so much to draw the Southern Slavs together, 
has nearly succeeded in removing all the moral barriers to 
what is called Yugoslav solidarity.^ It was the remarkable 
growth of pro-Serbian feeling among the Slavs of Austria- /^///-^S./^*! 
Hungary after the Serbian victories in the Balkan wars 
that roused the Dual Monarchy to its determination to 
crush Serbia out of existence. 

Now let us turn to the history. Serbia was conquered by 
the Turks about five hundred years ago. Although the 
Serbs suffered a crushing defeat on the plain of Kossovo 
in 1389, they cannot be said to have been brought definitely 
under Turkish rule for the next seventy years. Various 
leaders maintained the unequal struggle against the invader, 
and with efficient help from the Christian nations they 
might have succeeded in stemming the Asiatic flood, but 
with the fall of Smederevo in 1459, Serbian independence 
came to an end. The fortress of Belgrade, the last Christian 
stronghold in the Balkans, fell in 1521, and the task of 
defending Christendom against the Mohammedan hordes 
fell to the races of Central Europe. 

^ ' Yug ' in Serbian means ' south '. 

2 2 The Past 

Then the Serbs sank into a deep sleep of four hundred 
years. The gross darkness of Turkish rule covered the land. 
From having been an independent and conquering people 
they became the working class of a Turkish pashalik or pro- 
vince. As against their Moslem lords, who took possession 
of the land and for whom they laboured, they had few rights 
and little chance of successful appeal to the distant govern- 
ment of the Sultan. 

There has been and is now a tendency in England to regard 
the Turks as a race of honourable gentlemen, clean fighters, 
and even, when left to themselves, very tolerable governors. 
The nations whom they have ruled have thought very 
differently. TJi^know what it has meant to be defenceless 
before the Turk, to see their sons carried off to be educated 
as Moslems and to form the corps of Janizaries, to be 
unable to protect their daughters from entering the harems 
of the dominant race or the fruits of their labour from the 
landlords. It seems as though the Turk had retained the 
chivalry of caste coloured by Mohammedan contempt for 
' infidels '. To his equal in wealth or military prowess the 
Turk has usually appeared as a gentleman, with the qualities 
of the gallant fighter, but woe to those whom Allah has made 
weak and delivered into his hand, should they not submit 
to all his wishes ! 

In this long period of extinction two forces were mainly 
responsible for keeping alive the national spirit of the Serbs. 
One was their church, part of the Holy Orthodox Church 
of the East. True to the precepts of Mohammed, the Turks 
did not force their religion on the peoples whom they 
conquered. They offered the three-fold choice of Islam, 
the sword, or tribute. Should a subject-race reject the 
Mohammedan faith and also not wish to be exterminated. 

The Past 23 

it was spared on condition of paying tribute. So it 
came about that, at a time when Western Europe thought it 
the first duty of a government to impose what it considered 
the true religion on its subjects, the Sultan of Turkey drew 
his revenues from subjects who were allowed to abhor the 
faith of their ruler. Separate nationalities have never been 
allowed in the Turkish Empire. Religion is for the Turk 
the mark of distinction between men, and the people who 
would retain a united social life must find it in ecclesiastical 
organization. This the Serbs possessed in their national 
church with its patriarchate of Fetch ; and thus it was their 
church, the one institution left to them, that embodied the 
traditions, the hopes, and the unity of the people. 

The second influence that preserved the national spirit 
was that of the folk-songs and ballads {fesme). In these 
the lays of the saints and heroes of the glorious past were 
gathered, and they formed the whole sum of learning and 
culture to the greater portion of the people. The singing 
of these mournful and haunting ballads, which may often be 
heard from the lips of Serb soldiers, was the special business 
of the blind musicians who accompanied themselves on their 
one-stringed gousle, but every Serb would know several by 
heart and, his memory not being weakened by the arts of 
reading and writing, the words would remain indelibly 
printed on his mind. Thus the fesme would be handed on 
from generation to generation without ever being committed 
to paper ; and though many have been collected and edited 
during the last century, there must be many that have never 
been written. In the long winter evenings, when the Serbian 
farmers could not work, they would gather round the fire 
and sing together of past heroes and the golden age. Thus 
the Serbian soldier of to-day has a rich store of national 

24 The Past 

history in his songs and knows far more of the tradition, the 
triumphs, and the struggles of his own people than does his 
English brother-in-arms. The great figures of English 
history are to most of our countrymen nothing but names 
in history books. To the Serbs the old heroes are familiar 
characters, some of whom, like St. Sava and Kralyevitch 
Marko, will appear in moments of national crisis to lead 
their people to victory. 

In the hour of disaster and trial, too, these chants are the 
solace of the long-martyred race. A French doctor, who 
went through the terrible retreat in 1915, describes how the 
last act of some Serbian soldiers, before retiring from 
Kralyevo towards exile and probable death, was to gather 
round a blind gousla-^\zyer and to listen once more to the 
national epic.-^ 

Nor are all the -pesme by any means ancient. The Serbs 
have sung the story of this war, of their retreat, of Corfu, and 
of the present campaign. Unsophisticated, primitive folk find 
it natural to express themselves in poetry. Lieut. Krstitch ^ 
tells me that during campaigns many of his soldiers used to 
write home to their wives or parents in song and describe 
the details of their lives in verse. 

Thus, in words composed by a host of nameless bards, the 
songs of Serbia carry on the nation's story, and every Serb 
feels himself an actor in a great drama that is beng played 
out across the centuries. He continues the work of his 
forefathers. He avenges their sufferings. But he also works 
for the future. He builds the framework of an aee to 
come. He is a living link in one great chain that stretches 

^ Labry, p. 208. 

" The Serbian liaison officer whom Head-quarters M.T. Units are so 
fortunate as to have with them. 

The Past 25 

backward far into the past and reaches forward to the 
generations who shall see Serbia great and free. 

To these two influences making for continuity we ought 
to add a third — the uninterrupted existence of small groups 
of the Serbian race who never lost their liberty. Perched 
on the inhospitable crags of the mountains round Tsetinye 
(Cetinje) and ruled by their bishops of the house of Nyegush, 
a remnant of the people hurled defiance at the Moslem, till 
in modern times they formed the principality (recently 
kingdom) of Montenegro. Meanwhile, in the north, in 
the wooded hills of Shumadia, though lacking political 
organization, other mountaineers led the life of outlaws 
and maintained ceaseless guerrilla warfare against the 
invader. But it was on the Adriatic coast in the sturdy 
republic of Dubrovnik (Ragusa) that the tradition of Serbian 
culture was maintained. Dubrovnik, which succeeded in 
upholding her independence amid the rivalries of the Turks, 
the Venetians and the house of Austria, was one of the princi- 
pal trade-centres of the Levant. Her merchants had their 
factories along the trade-routes of the Balkans, at Sarajevo, 
Novi Pazar, Skoplye, Belgrade, Constantinople, and beyond. 
They brought with them amongst the conquered Serbs the 
atmosphere of their own free institutions and their wider 
outlook. But Dubrovnik was even more remarkable for her 
tradition of literary and scientific achievement. The poets 
Ivan Gundulitch, Palmotitch and Kaltchitch, the librarian 
of the Vatican, Stephen Graditch, and the astronomer 
Boshkovitch, are amongst the names of those who adorned 
the annals of their city-state, whose independence was 
only brought to an end by the far-reaching arm of 
There were also portions of the Serbian race who, though 

26 The Past 

not iiulependent, lived under a less barbarous regime than 
that of the Porte, The Serbs of the Dalmatian coast were 
brought into touch with the West through their Venetian 
masters ; while from the time of Matthias Corvinus, king 
of Hungary, the southern districts of that kingdom were 
w'idely colonized by Serbs who had fled before the armies of 
the Sultan. 

At the opening of the seventeenth century the position 
of the Serbs appeared hopeless. They were but one of 
many races submerged in the Ottoman Empire. The 
Turks were by then masters of the whole Balkan peninsula, 
except the Dalmatian littoral and the remote mountain 
retreats of the Serbian outlaws. Beyond the Danube they 
had conquered the whole plain of Hungary and of Roumania. 
The Black Sea was a Turkish lake and the Moslem hordes 
again and again threatened Vienna and the centre of Europe. 
But then began the long Turkish decline. The Turk has 
been in history a soldier and nothing else. In the Balkans 
he has been a parasite living on the industry of Slav or Greek 
peasants. In Constantinople to-day you may see how all the 
commerce, the enterprise and the art are the monopoly of 
the Christian races. The Turk is still the governor, the 
soldier, or the groom, but he is nothing more. And so when 
the Turks ceased to be a dominant military Power, threaten- 
ing the most powerful states of Christendom, the decline 
steadily continued. The trend of aggression ceased to be 
westward and turned to the East. On the heels of the 
retreating Turks the rising power of Austria pressed on 
towards the Levant. The imperial rule was established in 
Hungary and Croatia, and finally, after 1815, in Dalmatia 
also. For a short period of twenty-one years (1718-39) 
northern Serbia also was Austrian. Thus a large portion 

The Past 27 

of the Serb race came permanently under the government of 
the Habsburg emperors. 

Further, in 1690, after the failure of an Austrian invasion 
of the Balkans, the Serbian patriarch, Arsen, greatly com- 
promised in the eyes of the Porte by his support of the im- 
perial cause, led an exodus of his people across the Danube 
into Syrmia, Batchka, and the Banat. The Emperor Leopold 
granted these immigrants considerable privileges in return 
for their invaluable services as guardians of the frontier. 
The patriarch was established at Karlovtzi (Karlowitz) with 
the same jurisdiction over his co-religionists that he had 
nominally enjoyed under the Turk, and although the full 
liberties promised were never put in force, the Serbs of 
southern Hungary enjoyed a measure of national life. ^ 

Thus in the eighteenth century the Serbs found themselves ^ J ^ 
divided between the Austrian and the Turkish imperial *V^y '"^ 
systems. Under both governments they were suspect and (^v^**- 
their aspirations quenched. In 1766 the patriarchate of "i n<*-ri *- 
Fetch was abolished by Turkey. In ijjS the Hofdeputationy 
a commission appointed for the defence of Serbian ecclesiasti- 
cal interests in Hungary, was likewise suppressed by Austria. 
The Serbs, however, continued to negotiate with Vienna, 
which was only propitious when there was any frontier 
fighting to be done or when it seemed necessary to control 
the Magyars by support of their neighbours. Some of the 
Serbs, despairing of liberty under the Habsburgs, had 
begun a further exodus to Russia, whither also an increasing 
number of young Serbs went for their education. 

But the age of revolution was at hand. The nineteenth 
century opened amid the conflagration that had been lit 
in France. Underlying the French revolution were the two 
great ideas, or systems of ideas, that we will call ' The Rights 

28 The Past 

of Man ' and ' Nationality '. These ideas were trumpet- 
calls that sounded throughout Europe and even awoke an 
echo in the distant Balkans. But for such an appeal to meet 
with a response some measure of previous education is neces- 
\ sary. A wholly illiterate and ignorant peasantry cannot be 
'•y : roused by appeals to general principles. Therefore I will 
stop to say a few words about a Serbian man of letters, whom 
we will take as the most conspicuous of those who gave them- 
selves at this time to the task of reviving national sentiment 
and a national literature among their fellow-countrymen. 

Dositey Obradovitch was a native of the Banat, and at 
the age of fifteen entered the monastery of Hopovo in the 
Frushka Gora. Though a monk he did not feel himself 
called to the contemplative life. His career is a record of 
wanderings in search of knowledge, from Smyrna to France 
and from Russia to Italy. He studied also in Germany and 
spent six months in London. But, though his mind was 
open to the literature and ideas of every nation, he was a true 
Serb in his devotion to the church and to the pesme, many 
of which he collected and published. But he longed also 
to see the best of western civilization and science introduced 
among his people, as Peter the Great had done in Russia. 
Dositey Obradovitch lived to see a great enthusiasm among 
Serbs for his works. I am told that they used to be sold for 
their equivalent weight in gold. He first attempted to 
break from the old Slavonic tradition and to write in the 
speech of modern life. His appeal reached indirectly beyond 
his readers to those who could not themselves read. He 
called to all who spoke the Serbian tongue to remember 
their common past and to labour together for a future 
unity. Even in the pashalik of Belgrade he awoke a response. 
After living in the opening years of the nineteenth century 

The Past 29 

at Trieste, where a public subscription was raised to relieve 
him of the perpetual worries of poverty, he was invited by 
the Serbian leader, Kara-George, to begin the organization 
of Serbian education. He accordingly settled in Belgrade 
in 1807 and founded the school out of which has ultimately 
grown the present university. He refused to leave the country 
even during the Turkish massacres in 1 809, and died in the 
midst of the struggle for liberation. 

The intellectual revival, of which Dositey Obradovitch was 
at once a symptom and a cause, was naturally more in evi- 
dence amongst the Serbs of the Austrian provinces, where 
material civilization made educational work possible. Secon- 
dary schools were founded in 1791 and the seminary of 
Karlovtzi in 1794. ^ Slavo-Serbian printing press was 
established at Vienna, and two Serbian newspapers appeared, 
7he Serbian Gazette and The Slavo-Serbian Journal (1791- 
4). But the Serbs learned by bitter experience that the 
civilized power of Austria would be a more thorough , 
opponent of their national life than the barbarous but easy- 
going government of the Sultan. ' They hate Austria 
more than Turkey, because Turkey only scourged their 
bodies, while Austria has stifled their souls.' ^ North of the 
Danube the Serbs found that they could receive the elements 
of education, only to be baidked of the freedom which 
that education made them desire. The scene of the Serbian 
struggle therefore shifted once more to Turkey, where the Jt/^«t '-^^i-^ 
peasant leaders hoped to secure a form of provincial autonomy 
with the help of the Russian Empire, which had been recog- 
nized by the Treaty of Kutchuk-Kainardji (1774) as the 
protector of the Orthodox subjects of the Porte. 

The appeal of the Serbs met with a favourable response 

^ Berry, p. 124. 

30 The Past 

from the Sultan Selim III, who granted them a limited form 
of self-government, religious liberty, and commercial freedom. 
Their princes (knezt) were to be elected in democratic 
assemblies, their financial obligations were fixed and reduced 
to imperial taxation only ; while the Janizaries, the real 
oppressors of the unfortunate peasants, were forbidden to 
enter or inhabit the pashalik of Belgrade (1793). But the 
Sultan was far away. The Janizaries were on the spot and 
in no temper to allow their victims to escape from thraldom. 
Defying their distant master, they carried devastation and 
slaughter far and wide amongst all who resisted their will. 
In 1 801 they assassinated the pasha of Belgrade, and the 
country was completely given over to anarchy under the 
nominal rule of four Turkish rebel chiefs. 

Life was insupportable for the Serbs. Once more they 
appealed to Constantinople. Their leaders met together 
and addressed a petition to the Sultan. ' We are attacked ', 
they said, ' in respect of life, religion, honour. There is 
not a husband who can be sure of protecting his wife ; 
nor a father his daughter, nor a brother his sister. 
Monasteries, churches, monks, priests, nothing is safe from 

Western nations, largely misled by the exaggerations and 
misrepresentations of the Austrian press, have often expressed 
contempt for the barbarous, turbulent, and unprogressive 
Serbs. Our soldiers have noticed the miserable poverty, 
squalor, and primitive conditions of life in Macedonia. What 
has made Macedonia a desolation has been the feeble and 
corrupt Turkish government, which allowed free play to all 
the elements of disorder and terrorism. That Turkish 
domination brought misery to all the Balkan peoples, and 

^ Quoted in Denis, p. 48. 

The Past 31 

when we read a cry of despair like that which I have just 
quoted, we cease to be struck by the hatred of the Serbs for 
the Turks or by their undeveloped civilization. Rather we 
are amazed that a people who only emerged from Turkish 
misgovernment less than a century ago should be so tolerant 
and open-minded and so progressive as the Serbs in recent 
years have shown themselves to be.-*- 

In answer to this last appeal the Sultan ordered the dis- 
turbers of the peace to respect the rights of the Christian 
peasants and threatened them with punishment. The only 
result of this was that the Moslems of the pashalik carried 
out a savage massacre of the most conspicuous Serbian 
leaders. One hundied and fifty were killed in January 1804, 
and seventy-two heads were exposed on pikes at Belgrade. 
The Serbs saw that the hour had come when they must 
effect their own salvation. It was useless to go on hoping 
against hope for succour from distant protectors. They 
succeeded in temporarily sinking their internal dissensions, 
and resolved to unite in a furious revolt which should bring 
either liberty or annihilation. 

Thus the Serbs were the first of the Balkan peoples to raise <f I'^Sl 
the standard of rebellion in a war of national liberation. 
They, too, in a peculiar degree, achieved their own indepen- 
dence. The Greeks fought for themselves ; but without the 
intervention of the Powers, at the critical moment when 

^ Miss Durham describes how she helped an unfortunate wretch to 
escape from Macedonia and cross the frontier into Serbia. She received 
a pathetically grateful letter from Belgrade. * He had never before 
known, he said, what it was to be in a free and civihzed land. There are 
people in England who believe that Serbia is a wild and dangerous place. 
They are those who do not understand what it is to be a subject of the 
Svikan.' Durham, p. 86, 


32 The Past 


Ibrahim Pasha had virtually stamped out the insurrection, 
the Greek kingdom could not have been created. The 
Bulgars owe their liberation to Russia. To Russia's wars with 
Turkey the Serbs also owe the military embarrassment of the 
Sultan, who was unable to overwhelm the rebels of the Shu- 
madia. Still the hard and continuous years of fighting were 
the work of the Serbs themselves, unassisted by any sympathy 
or material help from Western Europe and only supported by 
[ a very small Russian force, which was withdrawn when Napo- 
1 Icon invaded Russia itself. Serbia does not forget so proud 
a national tradition, and round the cross on her coat of arms 
are four S's (in Serbian, C's) which I have heard interpreted, 
' Sama Srbiya sebe spasela ' — ' Serbia alone delivered herself.' ^ 
The leader who came forward at this crisis was George 
Petrovitch, better known by his Turkish name of ICara-George 
(Black George), the grandfather of King Peter. An illiterate 
peasant of the Shumadia, he had seen something of war as a 
volunteer in the Austrian army, and had made a little money 
by dealing in pigs. He owed such command as he had over 
the loyalty of his fellow-Serbs to his huge physical.strength, 
his courage, his violent temper, and his undeniable genius for 
irregular warfare. 

So thorough was his success that by 1807 northern Serbia 
from the Drina to the Timok had been freed from the Turks, 
who were even driven from their garrison towns. The 
Serbians then settled down — like any newly-emancipated 
people — to quarrel among themselves. But the time soon 
came when Turkey was able to collect her scattered forces 
to deal thoroughly with the Serbian insurrection. In 181 2 
the little Russian auxiliary force was withdrawn. At their 

^ The-correct meaning, I understand, Is Samo shga Srbina spasava — 
' Only in the union of Serbs is salvation.' 


The Past 33 

departure a ' pope ' celebrated the Holy Eucharist and read 
for the Gospel the passage, ' Let not your heart be troubled. 
Ye believe in God; believe also in me . . .' Kara-George and , , 
his lieutenants took an oath of eternal fidelity to Russia, but 
their hearts must have been heavy with foreboding as they saw 
the few supporters they had had march away and leave them 
alone. By the treaty of Bucharest (18 12) the Russians had 
indeed extorted from the Sultan a promise that the Serbs 
should have the administration of their own affairs, but the 
Turkish troops were to come back to the fortresses and that 
meant the return of the old order. 

In the following year the blow fell. A large Turkish army 
invaded Serbia. Weakened by the long years of struggle, in 
which many of the stoutest hearts had perished, and depressed 
by their isolation, the Serbs were in no condition to resist. 
Kara-George himself fled into Hungary and was promptly 
imprisoned by the Austrian police. Those who remained in 
Serbia were the victims of the exasperated Turkish army. 
The victors exploited their success with ferocious stupidity 
and spoke of exterminating the rebellious race. In the 
neighbourhood of Krushevatz only one man in every six was 
said to have survived. On either side of the road at the 
entrance to Belgrade some sixty prominent Serbs were im- 
paled, amongst whom were priests and monks, their bodies 
being eaten by the dogs. 

Thus in 18 13 the only result of ten years' hard fighting was 
the scrap of paper on which the Sultan had accorded to the 
Serbs the internal government of their province. Yet out of 
that Article VIII of the treaty of Bucharest has grown the 
independent kingdom. For the Turkish government, looking 
around for some satisfactory method of making its authority 
felt so far from Constantinople, decided to recognize one of 

2071 P 

34 The Past 

the Serbian leddcrs as the responsible head of the people. The 
man who accepted this difficult and dangerous position was 
the second liberator of Serbia, Milosh Obrenovitch. Some- 
thing more than the courage and strength of Kara-George 
was needed. Milosh brought to his task the additional advan- 
tages of oriental cunning and a complete lack of scruple. 
Though undoubtedly a brave fighter, he preferred to gain 
his ends by diplomacy rather than war. Yet, successful as 
Milosh was, Kara-George has always been the hero of the 
wars of independence. To Milosh clings the taint of having 
deliberately continued those habits of cruelty, fraud, and 
narrow-minded egoism which are the curse of a long op- 
pressed people, and which it was Serbia's highest interest to 

By alternately using the weapons of bribery, rebellion, and 
the threat of Russian intervention after the final fall of 
Napoleon in 1815, Milosh succeeded in getting himself recog- 
nized as autonomous knez. of Serbia. His position, however, 
was precarious for the next fifteen years until the Russians, 
by the treaty of Adrianople (1829), extorted from the Sultan 
the edict of 1830, which is the charter of Serbia's indepen- 
dence. Milosh was accepted as hereditary prince ; the 
Sultan resigned all pretension to interfere in Serbian internal 
affairs or the administration of justice ; Mohammedans were 
forbidden to reside in the country, except in those towns 
where the Ottoman government continued for nearly forty 
years to maintain its garrisons. 

Thus modern Serbia was launched. A tiny peasant state, 
consisting only of the northern territories between the Drina 
and the Timok, and the valleys of the Western Morava and 
Ibar. The hand of the Turk was removed, but the evil 
results of his rule could not be abolished in a day. Every- 

The Past 35 

thing remained to be done in the way of educating the people 
in industry and citizenship, and a rough schoolmaster they 
had in Milosh Obrenovitch. The Prince of Serbia did 
not afFect the style of any modern European royalty. His 
favourite residence at Kraguyevatz, close to the mountains 
of Rudnik, into which he could retreat when necessary, was 
a simple Turkish house, displaying the crescent over the door. 
His office of state was a little room furnished with maps and 
captured Turkish flags. Unable to read or write, he had 
a secretary who gave him the news and interpreted some of 
the legal codes of Western Europe. Seated on cushions 
on the floor, with a turban on his head, he gave audience to 
his visitors exactly in the fashion of his Turkish predecessors. 

Not only in the outward details of his manner of life/'^^^*^ > 
but in character also Milosh was a barbarian — the product of h/rf^^\^. 
anarchy. His temper was often ungovernable, and he met iH^ 
the slightest resistance to his wishes with summary imprison- 
ment. His opponents, who naturally were not few, he 
removed by force or assassination. When Kara-George 
ventured back into Serbia in 1817 to renew the fight for 
independence Milosh had him murdered in his sleep, and 
sent his head to the Sultan, accompanying this pledge of good 
faith by demands in the interests of the Serbian people. The 
Archbishop Nikshitch was assassinated in his palace. By such 
means Milosh succeeded in imposing his authority on his 
turbulent subjects. 

He had also other methods of building up his power. He 
was responsible for the tribute payable to the Turkish 
government. This he forced the Serbs to pay in Austrian 
money, while he himself forwarded it in the less valuable 
Turkish currency and kept the difference. He reserved for 
himself the monopoly of dealing in certain articles, and for- 

c 2 

36 The Past 

bade the development of the salt-mines in Serbia, lest they 
should reduce his profits from similar enterprises in Rouma- 
nia. For years he never called together the Skupshtina or 
national assembly. 

His wife, the Princess Liubitza, was a fitting companion for 
such a monarch. She had fought in the ranks of the insur- 
gents and kept their courage alive in the darkest hours. As 
princess she cooked her husband's meals and waited at table 
on the male members of the household. Her only knowledge 
of civiHzed Eurqpe was derived through her daughter, who 
had married a shop-keeper in Zimun, opposite Belgrade. She 
imitated her husband's methods of dealing with rivals. When 
Milosh, who in so many ways continued the Mohammedan 
tradition, was captivated by other ladies, his wife would 
finish them off with a gun and then retire into the mountains 
until her lord's anger had evaporated. 

Nevertheless, this barbarian had a very shrewd idea of 
what his country needed. The alternative to his autocracy 
was an anarchy of quarrelling chiefs, and he used his power 
for many beneficent ends. He first gave Serbia roads and 
schools ; he encouraged the press ; he laid the foundations 
of the army and civil service ; he freed the national Church 
from the control of the Greek Patriarchate in 183 1, since 
when it has been autonomous with a Serbian Metropolitan 
at Belgrade. Above all, in 1833 the old Turkish system of 
land-tenure was abolished and the peasants became the owners 
of the soil, a reform so successful that Serbia may be said in 
modern times to have had no agrarian problem. 

Milosh, however, had made many enemies amongst those 
who wished to share in the government of the country and 
those who objected to his western innovations. He might 
have succe^ssfully resisted all efforts to deprive him of power 

The Past 37 

but for the existence of a rival dynasty. The malcontents 
could appeal to the memory of the dead hero, Kara-George, 
and claim the princely throne for his son. So in 1839 Milosh 
was at last driven from Serbia, after abdicating in favour of 
his sons. The elder son, Milan, died almost at once, and his 
brother Michael succeeded him at the age of 16, only to follov^f 
his father into exile in 1842, when a series of faction fights 
ended by placing on the throne the representative of the 
rival house, Alexander Karageorgevitch. 

Throughout his reign Prince Alexander was troubled ^iuiJ ^^•*** 
with Obrenovitch plots. By his refusal to take part in the 
Crimean War against the Turks he incurred great unpopu- ij ^ 
larity, although in 1856 he gained the collective guarantee ^^{(o 

of the Powers for Serbian liberties. The result was that 
in 1858 he too followed the example of his predecessors and 
went into exile with his young son Peter, of whom, we shall 
hear more in after years. 

The veteran Prince Milosh returned to the throne and 
lived for two years, being again succeeded by his son Michael 
in i860. This prince, who proved the ablest ruler modern 
Serbia has had, destroyed the last visible sign of Turkish rule 
in his country. After a disturbance in the streets of Belgrade 
in 1862 the Turkish commandant opened fire on the town. 
Russiajindj£arice^_Serbk demanded the 

removal of the garrisons, but Great Britain and Austria 
supported Turkey, the former from fear of Russian influence, 
the latter because she wished to see no diminution of Turkish 
authority except in her own favour. Austrian statesmen 
clung to Metternich's pronouncement that Serbia must be 
either Turkish or Austrian, and they preferred the suzerainty 
oTthe Turk (whom the Emperor Francis II called ' the most 

3S The Past 

comfortable of neighbours ') to a wholly independent 

In 1S67 the situation was different. Austria had just been 
soundlv thrashed bv Prussia and was eneaeed in satisfvin? 
Hungary's demands for Home Rule. The Turks were 
^^' occupied with one of the many risings in Crete. Michael 

n^' aeain demanded the removal of the earrisons, and this time 
gained his point. Thus at last, after more than 400 years, the 
soU of Serbia was purged of the Asiatic conqueror. The 
suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire remained for a few years, 
but the night was over. The morning had dawned and the 
li?ht of a new dav had come, a new dav in which the Serbian 
people should labour at the fulfilment of their destiny and 
enter again the stream of European ciiiTlization. 

To the Treaty of Berlin 

In this lecture I wish to deal with a short period, and 
shall only reach 1878, because, in that year, the Congress of 
Berlin re-fashioned the Balkan peninsula on a system which, 
with minor alterations, remained in force until five years ago. 

The duty that lay before Prince Michael and his ministers 
was that of introducing among their liberated countrymen 
the best fruits of Western civilization. It was not an easy 
task. It meant heavy burdens of taxation and much hard 
work along new lines. The Serbs have shown themselves to 
be capable of supreme heroism and complete devotion to 
noble ideals in moments of crisis. The virtues of plodding, 
continuous labour and constructive thought they have found 
less congenial. The Bulgars have a saying to express this 
view. ' The Serbs ', they say, ' are a people of warriors ; but 
we are a military nation.' Although the Serbs have in recent 
years proved that they too are capable of national organiza- 
tion, and so have given the lie to this judgement by their 
neighbours, in the nineteenth century they appeared un- 
progressive and more devoted to their glorious past than 
anxious to lay the foundations of their country's future. 
Amongst the ruling class faction and intrigue were a continual 
hindrance to the government ; while the peasants had been 
too long under the blight of Turkish misrule to accommodate 
themselves quickly to modern methods of working the land. 

Yet slowly, but surely, Serbia was emerging from bar- 
barism. To cross the Save from Hungary to Belgrade was 
still to leave Europe for the East. The Serbian capital was 

40 To the Treaty of Berlin 

a true oriental town in its squalor and shapeless confusion. 
But through it already ran a European main street with solid 
modern houses and shops where Viennese goods could be pro- 
cured. In 1 862, by the generosity of a patriotic citizen, a fine 
building was opened for the High School or College, which 
numbered twenty professors and several hundred students. 

Meanwhile the countryside remained in a torpor of con- 
tented conservatism. Agriculture was still in a rudimentary 
stage. Manures were little used, and the primitive wooden 
plough only scratched the surface of the soil, from which a 
meagre crop was gathered, sufficient for the peasants' modest 
needs. It was not a country to attract the foreign traveller, 
for inns were few and far from comfortable, though the 
presence of chairs to sit upon, and knives and forks to use at 
table, contrasted favourably with anything to be found on 
the Turkish side of the frontier. 

One sign of change, much lamented by many as an indica- 
tion that ' the country was going to the dogs ', was the 
weakening of the institution known as the zadruga. 

The zadruga is the family community, consisting of any- 
thing up to thirty or forty persons, living together, owning 
and working the land together. There is no inheritance or 
partition of the family property. When the head of the 
house dies, the estate is not divided, nor does it pass to any 
one member, for the whole body, which is the collective 
owner, continues in possession. The father or the eldest 
brother will be the representative of the zadruga. He has a 
moral authority over the rest based on his age and experience, 
but he cannot sell the property of the family without their 
consent. On marriage the husband normally takes his bride 
into his home circle, and, if there is no room under the family 
roof, another small house will be built near by for the young 


To the Treaty of Berlin 41 

couple, who nevertheless will join the others at meals, at 
work, and in their leisure. 

Such an arrangement has its great advantages. It keeps the 
people on the land, it gives them solidarity and assures to 
them their livehhood, while it checks self-seeking and en- 
courages loyal co-operation. On the other hand, it has its 
drawbacks, which account for its decay. Individual ini- 
tiative was paralysed by the control of the large group, some 
members of which would always be found to oppose new 
and improved methods of industry. Consequently the code 
of 1 844 had permitted the individual to demand his share of 
the estate as a separate property and to dispose of it in his 
will. The resultingjchange from collective to private owner- M^*^"*" 
ship was naturally accompanied by troubles and difficulties, cuS"^^ 
which caused grave misgivings in the hearts of those to whom 
the old order w^as dear. 

At this time, when Serbia was halting uncertainly between 
the old world and the new, the nation was fortunate in the 
possession of so able a prince as Michael. Sixteen years of 
exile had taught him courage and prudence, and given him 
a wide acquaintance with Europe. He spoke and wrote 
French and German, and understood Russian. A Serbian 
writer -^ says that he ' highly esteemed the English as a people 
who loved liberty and respected lawful rights, but regretted 
the great fault of their policy, their support of the Turks '. 
Under his rule material prosperity began to develop. 
Schools of agriculture taught the peasants new and more 
productive methods, the breeding of live stock was improved, 
the wasteful destruction of timber was checked and afforesta- 
tion begun. The charter of 1861 set the Serbian democracy 
on a firm basis, by substituting regular elections for mass 

^ Militchevitch, p. 485. 

42 To the Treaty of Berlin 

meetings with their tumultuous procedure. A French officer, 
Col. Mondain, was Secretary for War, and could provide in 
case of necessity an army of 150,000 men with seven batteries 
of artillery, drawing munitions from the arsenal at Kraguye- 

Hopes for the stability and progress of the country rose 
high. The old dynastic feuds seemed to have been composed. 
Two princesses of the House of Karageorgevitch were present 
when, on the feast of the Holy Trinity in 1865, Michael cele- 
brated the jubilee of Serbian independence amidst general 

But many looked to the Prince of Serbia to do greater 
things. It was hoped that he would be the emancipator of 
the Southern Slav peoples ; that, as united Italy had grown up 
round the little state of Piedmont, so all the Slav subjects of 
Turkey would be gathered together into a single nation and 
the principality of Serbia expand into a great Balkan kingdom, 
stretching from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. In Michael's 
day such an ambition was not so extravagant as it has since 
become. It was a time of change, when new nations were 
being formed. Italy had just been united. The Roumanians 
had shaken off Turkish control and elected a prince of their 
own. The eyes of the Slavs in the Ottoman Empire naturally 
turned to that corner of the Balkan peninsula where indepen- 
dence had been won. The peasants of Bosnia and Hertze- 
govina longed to break the yoke of their landlords and 
enjoy the liberties of their fellow Serbs across the Drina. 
The same was true of the Serbs of Old Serbia. Also there 
was then no Bulgaria ; Western Europe was unaware of the 
existence of a Bulgarian people. The Bulgars, who were as 
yet only the labouring class of the eastern half of the Balkans, 
were indeed just beginning to awake to the idea of nationality. 

To the Treaty of Berlin 43 

Their religion was the same as that of the Serbs. Their 
leaders, who plotted and planned for a revolution against the 
Turkish government, were often welcome guests at Belgrade. 
A little luck, some years of strenuous work, and it seemed 
probable that the Bulgars and Serbs would merge into one 
people under the firm and wise government of Prince Mi- 
chael. There was even a treaty in 1867 between him and the 
Bulgarian revolutionary committee by which it was arranged 
that he was to be sovereign of the two united nations. 

Further, the literary movement of the middle of the 
century had given to all the Southern Slavs an increased con- 
sciousness of their common inheritance of race and language. 
The Croatian poet Gai had called on them to realize within 
the Austrian Empire the union which they had known during 
the short period of Napoleon's possession of Illyria. The 
great-hearted Roman Catholic bishop Strossmayer was work- 
ing for their education and unity. The most conspicuous figure 
amongst Serbian writers of that age was Vuk Karadjitch, the 
second founder of Serbian literature. A self-educated man, 
he laboured all his life to give a literary form to the common 
speech of the people and to complete that departure from the 
antiquated Slavonic which Dositey Obradovitch had begun. 
He chose as his medium of expression the beautiful speech 
of his native Hertzegovina, which has become the language 
of Serbian culture. It was in that cultivated tongue that 
the Archimandrite Joachim Byedov, who is chaplain at 
General Vasitch's head-quarters, made us a speech on the 
Orthodox Christmas Day, and very majestic and musical it 

No less than forty-nine books stand to Vuk Karadjitch's 
credit in a dictionary of eminent Serbs. He encountered 
such opposition from old-fashioned circles in Serbia, on 

44 To the Treaty of Berlin 

account of his break with the old alphabet and the old lan- 
guage, that his books were for many years forbidden in the 
principality, but they were published in Vienna, Buda-Pesth, 
Leipzig, and other places, and not only gave the scattered 
Southern Slavs a common literature but introduced them to 
the notice of Europe at large. His greatest work was his 
monumental Serbian dictionary, published in i8i8. He lived 
on till 1864 and continued to pour out works, including four 
large volumes of collected songs and ballads. 

At the same time Croatian literature was being standardized 
on the model of the poets of Dubrovnik, and the Serbs of 
Serbia were producing their share of the national output 
of science and letters. Since 1847 the Srpska Slovesnost, 
a literary society of Belgrade, had published annually the 
volumes of its Glasnik (Reporter), to which many articles of 
high value were contributed. Belgrade was, in fact, begin- 
ning to take its place with Zagreb, Novi Sad, and other 
Southern Slav towns as a centre of intellectual light and 
leading. Throughout the Serbo-Croat lands the dawn of a 
new day seemed to be spreading, and a manifesto issued at 
Vienna in 1850 could proudly declare that all the Southern 
Slavs, of whatever state or church, whether they used the 
Latin or the Cyrillic alphabet, were one people and used one 
language. This union of culture could not but express itself 
in aspirations after political emancipation from the two 
empires which divided the Serbian race. Everywhere arose 
the prayer, ' Lord, declare to us that Thine anger is appeased 
and that Thou hast pardoned our faults. Lord, set an end to 
the punishment of the sons of Lazar, the martyr of Kossovo. 
Lord, grant us our place in the midst of the nations and 
deliver us from the Turk and the German.' ^ 

^ Denis, p. 92. 

To the Treaty of Berlin 45 

But the task of creating a ' greater Serbia ' was beyond the 
means which Prince Michael had at his disposal. The little 
principality could not hope to make any headway against 
either Austria or Turkey without allies ; and allies were hard 
to find. Russia was then occupied with her own affairs. She 
was engaged in liberating her serfs, and had not as much 
attention as usual to give to Balkan affairs. France, under 
Napoleon III, gave little sympathy or support to Serbia. 
Great Britain was the friend of the Turk. Of nearer neigh- 
bours, Roumania was but newly established and herself most 
insecure and distrustful of Slavs. Greece was feeble and 
divided, and, despite a Serbo-Greek alliance in 1867, would 
also resent the establishment of a powerful Slav state barring 
the way to her north-eastward expansion. 

The one ally on whom Michael could depend was the other 
Serb state of Montenegro. Montenegro is a wild tangle of 
barren hills with very few fertile valleys, a country that owed 
its liberty to the harshness of its physical features. In fact, a 
popular story has it that when God was creating the world He 
brought the mountains along in a sack. By some accident the 
sack burst, and the mountains poured out higgledy-piggledy 
on to Montenegro. The state had been ruled by bishops for 
150 years, the succession passing from uncle to nephew, since 
bishops of the Eastern Orthodox Church do not marry, when 
Bishop Danilo (1851-60) declared himself 'Prince', married 
a wife, and became an ordinary secular ruler. His nephew, 
Nicholas, who succeeded him, and who is the present King 
of Montenegro (though actually, as is well known, an exile in 
France), has had a long and, until this war, a most successful 
reign. Basing his policy on a continuous alliance with the (H*iofe/?juyo 
Russian Empire, from which he received great financial assis- ,j^ /Ziu/ 
tance, he was ever ready to lead his hardy mountaineers to 

46 To the Treaty of Berlin 

battle to Increase his territory or to gain a port on the Adriatic. 
Amid the prosaic dullness of the modern world, King Nicholas 
has been a striking figure of romance, master of guerilla 
warfare, paternal despot of his people, to whom he used to 
administer justice seated under a tree in his garden, un- 
troubled by scruples, uncivilized even by his intimate know- 
ledge of Europe. 

During his reign Montenegro made some advance in 
material development, so that if I give a few details of life 
there, as they struck me when I visited Tsetinye in 1910, we 
may estimate what sort of an ally the little state would have 
been to Prince Michael fifty years ago. 

I landed at Cattaro, an Austrian port, and drove up the 
magnificent Austrian road which leads to the Montenegrin 
capital, and is the only way by which carriages can enter the 
kingdom. Up and up the road zigzagged across the face of 
the precipitous cliffs that rise from the water's edge. When 
we had left all signs of verdure behind us and were among the 
bare rocks, we crossed the frontier. A six hours' drive through 
the wildest country brought us to Tsetinye. It was about the 
size of a good big English village, with a population of less 
than 2,000 inhabitants. The royal palace was a plain v/hite- 
washed house of two stories and looked like a substantial 
English country inn. The Bank of Montenegro was an im- 
pressive building about the size of a labourer's cottage. There 
was an exhibition of Italian goods going on at the time, and 
I went in and watched the interest with which the Monte- 
negrins examined the most commonplace articles of house- 
hold furniture, regarding them evidently as great novelties. 
At the post office I asked for a stamp of the value of 2\d. in 
order to send a letter to England. I was told that they were 
unfortunately out of stamps of the values of \d., id., and 2\d., 

To the Treaty of Berlin 47 

but that there was no need to worry as there would be a new 
issue in about a fortnight ! The men are not partial to any 
form of work, except war, so that material progress of any 
considerable kind is impossible. Even if they did help their 
womenfolk to cultivate the land, they could make but little 
of the unproductive soil. The national industry of war, 
however, can always be practised with the neighbouring 
Albanian tribes, who are also usually spoiling for a fight 
and loathe the Montenegrins. Finally, Montenegro, which 
to-day appears only a spot on the map of Europe, was fifty 
years ago considerably smaller, having a diameter of about 
22 miles. 

From such an ally, however loyal, Serbia could not expect 
much assistance in the task of liberating the Balkan peninsula. 
Indeed, before anything had been openly attempted towards 
that object, Serbia suffered the terrible misfortune of losing 
her prince. Michael was assassinated on June 10, 1868, while vJ-^O-^t^ 
walking in his park at Topshider, near Belgrade, with the girl ^ 

to whom he was engaged. The murder has always been a 
mystery. Michael's success as ruler may have exasperated the 
supporters of the Karageorgevitch family into doing this 
dastardly act, so fatal to the best interests of their country, or 
it may merely have been the work of anarchists, who would 
murder any royalty on principle, for the sake of removing a 
head that bore a crown. Others again, asking the pertinent 
question ' Cui bono F ' ' Who profited by the murder ? ', have 
suspected Austria of being behind the fatal daggers. 

If the removal of Michael was a godsend for Austrian 
policy, it was for Serbia an irreparable loss. Had he survived, 
it was not at that time a wild dream to look forward to the 
establishment of a united Slav state, including Bosnia, 
Hertzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, and Bulgaria. Not even 

48 To the Treaty of Berlin 

the successes of the Serbian army in 191 2 could make up for 
this disaster, for in the meanwhile the follies and crimes of 
Michael's two successors, together with the disintegrating 
policy of the great Powers, destroyed all such ambitious pro- 
jects. The history of the next thirty-five years may in fact 
be described as ' the dechne and fall of the Obrenovitch 
dynasty '. 

Prince Milan, who now succeeded his cousin, jvas only 
fourteen. Four years later, in 1872, he came of age and soon 
showed his character and intentions. He had much to re- 
commend him ; the royal gift (so striking a possession of our 
King Edward) of never forgetting a face ; a genial manner 
with all classes which endeared his memory to many of his 
people and has made 'Milan 'so common a Christian nam.e 
in Serbia ; the charm of a good conversationalist, quick and 
witty ; great intellectual ability, ready eloquence, and a keen 
critical faculty which made him a dominant figure among 
his ministers and party-leaders. Those who have collected 
stamps or coins will remember the handsome boyish face 
with its rounded cheeks and its almost feminine appear- 
ance. He had all the attractiveness, too, of the ideal 
' knut ', knowing exactly what clothes to wear and taking 
life easily. 

But he came from Paris, where he had succeeded in 
thoroughly misspending his boyhood. His education had 
lacked method. He had grown up without disciphne or 
affection. The poison of scepticism, just then so strong in 
French hfe and thought, had eaten into his mind and soul, j 
and he was wholly without faith in God or humanity, religion, 
patriotism, honour, or justice. His one fixed intention was 1 
to have a good time and to exploit his position in accordance 
with his baser instincts. Such was the prince who now came 

To the Treaty of Berlin 49 

to direct the lives and fortunes of a people who are nothing 

lif not enthusiastic, idealistic, mystical, and devoted to the 

, traditions of their church and nation. Such a prince and 

jsuch a people could never be in true harmony. Milan hated 

jthe business of government. He despised the intriguing and 

! factious poHticians of the Skupshtina (Parliament) and the 

Court. He regarded existence in Belgrade as an intolerable 

exile from the gay life of Paris, Vienna, Biarritz, and the 

I other centres of Society, where he spent much of his time. 

'The generous emotions and ardent enthusiasms of the Serbs 

jonly aroused his sarcasm, and he ended by hating his own 

1 people. ' For the love of God,' he wrote to Queen Natalie 

about their son Alexander, ' and in the name of your child, 

do not trust the Serbs.' The Queen's reply was the right 

commentary on such a message : ' A King ', she answered, 

' is not crowned to distrust his people and to exploit them, 

but to live and to die with them.' ^ 

Nine-tenths of the people wished to see their government QcJUcdX ♦-^^ 
following a Radical policy. The programme was simple — f(2ui5,.e^ } 
strict economy, extensive powers for local authorities, a 
■ Russian alliance, and a Slav foreign policy. But Milan wanted 
i money, and the line of least resistance was to receive it from 
Austria-Hungary, in whose sphere of influence Serbia was 
now recognized to be. Rather than put himself at the head 
of his people in resistance to the Austrian menace and call on ^^ • 
Russia for support, which might not be forthcoming, Milan 
preferred to accept the credits which were always at his f^^kfic*'^ 
disposal in the banks of Vienna. But if Austria-Hungary 
paid the piper, she naturally called the tune. Serbia became 
a happy hunting-ground for Austrian contractors. They 
received special privileges to the detriment of the natives. 

^ Denis, p. 96. 
2071 p 

50 To the Treaty of Berlin 

The country became deeply involved in debt. To carry 
through this policy of subservience to his paymaster and to 
govern against the wishes of the Radicals, Milan was obliged 
to have recourse to violence and deceit. The constitution was 
violated, elections falsified, the Skupshtina summoned, pro- 
rogued, dissolved, justice perverted, plots engineered by the 
police, politicians cynically bought or ruined, public officials 
dismissed if they did not carry out the king's illegal orders. 
In this riot of despotism it is small wonder that the tone of 
public life was debased. Particularly did this corruption 
invade the army. In an army such as the Serbian where 
service with the colours is short, and where there is but a 
small backbone of officers and non-commissioned officers, it is 
essential to maintain a high sense of duty and public spirit. 
More especially is this so in a country surrounded by poten- 
tial enemies, and looking forward to the possibility of war to 
assure its expansion and free development. It was therefore 
disastrous that Milan should have brought officers into the 
intrigues of political life, bought their assistance with pro- 
motions, distinctions, or money, and filled the higher ranks 
with men remarkable for success at Court rather than for 
military efficiency. 

When Milan finally abdicated his throne and quitted the 
country, he left behind him a debt of 400,000,000 francs. 
The Serbs would have forgiven him that, but they could not 
forget that he demoralized their public life, and that (as we 
shaU see later) he alienated the Bulgars ; above all, that he 
sold them into the hands of Austria. 

Now let us look at his Balkan policy and the attempts which 
he made to fulfil Serbia's dreams of expansion. In 1875 an 
insurrection broke out in Hcrtzegovina and rapidly spread 

To the Treaty of Berlin 51 

through Bosnia. The unfortunate peasants of those pro- 
vinces suffered the worst evils of Turkish rule. The triple 
exactions of their Mohammedan landlords, of the imperial 
exchequer, and of the farmers of the revenue, weighed heavily 
on the impoverished country. Across the Drina they saw 
their fellow Serbs at least free from the Turk and masters of 
the soil. Unable • to endure their position any longer, they 
rose everywhere in revolt. 

Here was Austria-Hungary's chance. If she could march 
her armies into the two provinces and restore order, she could 
then turn to Europe, point out the eminent service she had 
rendered to civilization, and insist that she had better remain 
to administer the country in the interests of the inhabitants. 
Prince Metternich had long before laid down that Serbia 
must be either Turkish or Austrian. But Austria in those days 
was pre-eminently the European Power which stood for 
legitimism, that is, for the public recognition of rights con- 
ferred by treaties or hereditary" descent. She could hardly, 
therefore, march into Serbia and annex it. Her aim was 
rather to surround and penetrate the little principality until 
the day when Serbia should be unable to resist peaceful 
annex ation. Such a policy was cheaper and less provocative 
than more violent and dashing methods. In the occupation 
qf^Bpsnia-Hertzegovina the Austro-Hungarian government 
saw a grand opportunity to cut off Serbia from all hope 
of westward expansion and to carry its power far on the 
way to Salonika, already a constant object of Viennese 

But if the revolt was Austria-Hungary's opportunity, much 
more so was it Serbia's. 'Bosnia-Hertzegovina ', says M. Tsvi- 
jitch, the celebrated Serbian geographer, ' is not merely for us 
what the Trentino and Trieste are for Italy. . . . They have 

D 2 

52 To the Treaty of Berlin 

for Serbia the same importance that the environs of Moscow 
have for Russia, or the most vital parts of Germany and 
France have for the Germans and the French.' The two 
provinces were the home of the purest Serb traditions, and 
their dialect had been accepted as the literary expression of 
the Southern Slavs. That was the sentimental and racial 
reason for their supreme importance to Serbia. There was 
also the economic and strategic danger threatened to Serbia, 
should Bosnia-Hertzegovina not be recovered but come 
under Habsburg control. Serbia would then find the 
Austro-Hungarian army on her western as well as her 
northern frontier, and all hope of penetrating to the 
Adriatic Sea would be indefinitely postponed, if not entirely 

Ristitch, Milan's minister, saw all the dangers that would 
have to be faced should Serbia embark on a policy of adven- 
ture. The Turkish army, always a formidable fighting force, 
would overwhelm the Serbs, if it could be wholly massed 
against them. A Serbian invasion of the rebellious provinces 
would also, if successful, mean a conflict with Austria- 
Hungary, in which Russia would probably not interfere, 
while France was then in no condition to support other 
nations' crusades. On the other hand, Old Serbia too broke 
into rebellion, and this was followed by a similar movement 
in Bulgaria. If Serbia could only act quickly and establish 
herself in Bosnia-Hertzegovina and Old Serbia, it would take 
time to dislodge her, and meanwhile the example of insurrec- 
tion would probably spread far and wide over the whole of 
Turkey in Europe. Also Balkan statesmen have been taught 
by long experience that with the Powers nothing succeeds like 
self-help. Possession is nine points of the law. If they could 
maintain a positionj however precarious, in the ' unredeemed ' 

To the Treaty of Berlin 53 

Serbian lands, the Serbs could look forward with confidence 
to being ultimately supported by Russia. Ristitch therefore 
decided to act, and all Serbia was behind him. 

The essence of his plans was quick and decisive action, the 
immediate occupation of Bosnia by the Serbian army. And 
here whatever chance of success there had been was ruined by 
the hesitations and delays of Prince Milan. When at last, in 
June 1876, the prince brought himself, under the pressure of 
his subjects' opinion, to declare war, it was too late. The 
Turks had by then quenched the feeble fires of the Bul- 
garian rising with the blood of the slaughtered peasants, 
and having had the necessary time were ready to turn their 
whole force on to the Serbs. Worse still, in July 1876 the 
Emperors of Austria and Russia met at Reichstadt and k<^\\r\(^ \Ut 
came to an informal agreement by which they arranged a^{xJ/rf*^' 
that Russia should limit her sphere of action in the Balkans y^lL 

to the East, leaving the West (that is to say, the Serbs) to 

Deprived of the chance of ultimate Russian support, the 
position of Serbia was hopeless. Her soldiers fought bravely 
and well, and had the assistance of many Russian volunteers. 
But the army had not been thoroughly organized for war, 
and soon the Turks began to invade Serbian territory. The 
Serbs were only saved from disaster by the intervention of 
Russia, v/hich in October 1876 imposed an armistice on the 
Turks. A conference then met at Constantinople, which 
arranged for reforms to protect Turkey's Christian subjects, 
and the armistice was converted into a peace. But the 
promised reforms were not put in force, and in 1877 Russia, 
supported by Roumania, declared war on Turkey. Not 
content with her beating of the previous year, Serbia joined 
in the attack on the common enemy, this time with success. 

54 To the Treaty of Berlin 

'The Turkish army had its hands full elsewhere, and the Serbs 
triumphantly conquered and occupied Nish and the valleys 
of the Nishava and Southern Morava, 

But Russia had entered on this war for love of the un- 
fortunate Bulgars, not for the Serbs whom she had agreed to 
consider as Austria-Hungary's affair. As the existence of the 
Bulgarian State dates from the end of this campaign, and 
since it is impossible to follow further Serbian history without 
some knowledge of the Bulgars, let me now pause to consider 
that people, who are to-day our immediate opponents in 

The first point to grasp about the Bulgars is that, unlike 
the Serbs and Russians, they were originally not Slavs at 
all. Their early history is wrapped in considerable mystery, 
but we may say roughly that they entered the Balkan 
peninsula in the seventh century, as a Mongolian central- 
Asiatic race, akin to the Huns and Turks. Of recent years, 
since Serbia and Bulgaria have become usually hostile and 
always suspicious towards each other, many Bulgarian 
writers have rejoiced to emphasize their people's Tartaric 
origin. Pure Tartars, however, they certainly are not. Once 
settled south of the Danube they accepted the language 
and customs of the Slavs amongst whom they found them- 
selves. The old Bulgarian language disappeared and their 
present speech is pure Slavonic. They were converted to the 
Slav form of Christianity and they intermarried with the 
Slav race, so that in the west of Bulgaria, where the survival 
of the Slavs was most widespread, there is little difference 
between the Bulgar and his Serbian neighbour over the 
frontier. In fact, in 1878, when the principality of Bulgaria 

To the Treaty of Berlin 55 

was being created, many of the inhabitants of the western 
districts asked to be incorporated in Serbia. 

The history of the Bulgars, the long centuries during 
which they made no attempt to challenge their Turkish 
masters, and their final liberation by arms other than their 
own, might point to a lack of initiative and some natural 
docility to authority. Certainly of late years their present 
king and his court have seemed able to drive the Bulgars 
along any line of policy. But there is no doubt about the 
energy, the discipline, and the persistent industry which have 
enabled the people to develop their country's resources very 
rapidly in the last forty years. Still less is there any question 
about their capacity for war. When Serbia was attacked by 
Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Bulgaria in 1915, a pre- 
valent feeling amongst the Serbs was that, given anything 
like equal conditions, their most dangerous opponents 
would be the Bulgars. General Vasitch, I am told, said that 
he would rather have to deal with two divisions of Germans 
than one of Bulgars. 

Lying farther to the east than the Serbs, the Bulgars were 
naturally conquered first. They then settled down as 
drudges, without an educated class, without traditions, 
without hope. When the Serbs and Greeks achieved 
their independence the Bulgars made no sign of life. To 
Western Europe of the middle of the nineteenth century 
the Bulgarian race was unknown. But then began an 
intellectual awakening and the birth of nationalism, largely 
helped by the Serbian government, which printed 
Bulgarian books, opened Bulgarian schools, and generally 
encouraged the movement. Now the Turk, as we said 
before, professes to know nothing of separate nationalities 
under his rule. The only line of demarcation that he 

56 To the Treaty of Berlin 

recognizes is religious. Therefore the first step taken by the 
Bulgars was their demand in 1856 for a separate church 
with an organization independent of the Greek Patriarch 
of Constantinople, who had hitherto placed Greeks in 
all the bishoprics and higher ecclesiastical posts in Bulgaria. 
The Ottoman government, seeing nothing in this pro- 
posal but a Russian intrigue, made promises which it did 
not fulfil. A party of the Bulgars thereupon turned to 
France with a view to embracing Roman Catholicism. 
The Emperor Napoleon III entered into negotiations with 
the party-leader, Dragan Tsankov, and the result was the 
dispatch from Rome of a bishop to organize a Bulgarian 
Uniate Church (i. e. a national church with peculiar 
privileges, but under obedience to the see of Rome). This 
bishop landed at Salonika in 1861 and a week later dis- 
appeared, and with him collapsed the idea of a national 
conversion, though the little Uniate body still exists and has 
been used by Bulgaria as a weapon against Greeks and 

Meanwhile, the mass of the Bulgars had taken the decided 
step of refusing further to recognize the authority of the 
Patriarch. In 1870 the Ottoman government, thinking that 
the Bulgars might prove a useful counterpoise to the Serbs 
and Greeks, decided to grant their request, and to establish 
a Bulgarian Exarchate, or separate church, under an exarch 
who should reside at Constantinople and represent his 
co-relioionists in their relations with the Sultan. 


One point in the Sultan's firman (edict) establishing the 
Exarchate is of the utmost importance. The negotiations had 
been carried on between four parties — the Turkish govern- 
ment, the Greek Patriarch, the Bulgar leaders, and their 
friend and supporter, the Russian ambassador, General 

To the Treaty of Berlin 57 

Ignatieff. Tlie plan which liad been generally approved 
left the Bulgarian Exarchate still united to the Patriarchate, 
though self-governing, and defined its geographical limits. 
Behind the backs of the Russian ambassador and the Patri- 
arch, the Turks agreed to grant the Bulgars virtual inde- 
pendence and to leave their boundaries undecided. The 
result of the first alteration in the firman was that the 
Patriarch excommunicated the Exarchate, and the Bulgars 
since that time have remained the one Balkan people who 
are not united to the others and to Russia by ecclesiastical 
communion. The second alteration was embodied in the 
tenth clause of the firman and ran as follows : ' if all or 
two-thirds at least of the Orthodox inhabitants of districts, 
other than those enumerated above, wish to submit to the 
Bulgarian Exarchate in spiritual matters, and if this is stated 
and proved, they shall be authorized so to do . . . .' ^ This 
looks like a harmless and thoughtful provision for the future. 
Actually it has been used by the Bulgars in a most sinister 
manner for the extension of their influence. In this they 
had the great advantage that they were looked upon with 
considerable favour by the Turkish government and 
encouraged at first against the Greeks and also the Serbs, 
who now put in a claim to the old Serbian bishoprics of 
Skoplye and Petch. To the results of that tenth clause we 
shall come presently. 

Six years after the foundation of the Exarchate, the Bul- 
garian insurrection broke out. It was no more than a feeble 
and local affair, and was stamped out with brutality by 
Turkish irregular troops. But the ' Bulgarian atrocities ' 
of the Turks roused public indignation in Europe. Mr. 
Gladstone poured out speeches denouncing the assassins, 
^ Text of Firman in Balcanicus, pp. 286-90. 

58 To the Treaty of Berlin 

but failed to move Mr. Disraeli's government from its 
attitude of benevolence towards the Sultan. Russia, on 
the contrary, took up arms. Her armies crossed Roumania 
in 1877, and after breaking the long and desperate resistance 
of the Turks marched to the walls of Constantinople. 
Turkey was obliged to give in and agree to the treaty of 
San Stefano, by which Russia provided for a great Bulgarian 
principality, including what have since been known as 
Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia, all Macedonia, and the 
Aegean coast to the east of Salonika. Had this treaty been 
carried into effect Bulgaria would have been by far the 
largest state in the Balkans, stretching from the Danube to 
the Aegean Sea, and from the Black Sea to Albania, thus 
breaking European Turkey into two parts and separating 
Greece and Serbia. 

But the treaty was not allowed to stand. Austria-Hungary 
would not tolerate the intrusion of a new state between her- 
self and her coveted goal of Salonika. Both Austria-Hungary 
and Great Britain suspected that the new principality would 
be guided and dominated by Russia. Consequently a 
European congress was held at Berlin to revise the Balkan 
situation. Three statesmen. Prince Bismarck, the German 
Chancellor, Count Andrassy, the Austro-Hungarian Chan- 
cellor, and Mr. Disraeli, acting together, so altered the 
provisions of the treaty of San Stefano as to establish a small 
principality of Bulgaria, stretching from the Timok to the 
Black Sea between the Danube and the Balkan Mountains. 
Southern Bulgaria, called Eastern Roumeha, was to be 
governed by a Christian official appointed by the Porte ; 
while Turkey, promising to introduce reforms favourable 
to the Christian population, was confirmed in the rest of 
her European possessions, with the exception of concessions 

To the Treaty of Berlin 59 

on her frontiers to Austria-Hungary, Serbia, Roumania, and 

The Bulgars had thus seen Macedonia given to them, only 
to see it at once withdrawn. Their appetite was whetted. 
They foresaw the coming collapse of the Turkish empire 
in Europe, and were determined that when the day for 
dividing Turkey's estate came, they should have the lion's 
share. Macedonia must be shown to be Bulgarian in race, 
language, and sympathy. Thus Bulgaria would in time 
become the predominant state of the Balkans, holding the 
central strategic position and controlling both the main 
trade-routes. The story of the Bulgarian attempt to do 
this has been called ' the folk-war ', which made a hell of 
Macedonia during the thirty years before the Balkan War 
of 1912. 

Macedonia is not a province with exact limits. At the 
present moment it is nominally divided between Serbia 
and Greece. It is rather the name vaguely given to all that 
debatable block of country where the Greeks, the Serbs, 
the Bulgars, and the Albanians meet and mingle. The 
confusion of races is rendered yet more perplexing by the 
presence of a number of Turks, and of Kutzo-Vlachs, 
supposed to be the descendants of the original Romano- 
Illyrian stock who were in the peninsula before the Slavs 
came.-^ Each of the Balkan States has cast covetous eyes on 
Macedonia and tried to prove part or the whole of it to be 
by nature hers ; while the Albanians vigorously resent any 

^ Batachin, where one of our A.S.C. (M.T.) companies was billeted in 
October 19 16, is a Kutzo-Vlach village. The people speak a dialect 
similar to Roumanian. Their houses were built by the Roumanian 
government, and a school provided from the same source was being con- 
structed when the war broke out. 

6o To the Treaty of Berlin 

attempt to deprive them of the anarchy and tribal indepen- 
dence which they have enjoyed for centuries. 

In the work of staking out a claim Bulgaria set the pace. 
She had many advantages. Unlike Serbia, she had free 
access to the sea. Unlike Greece, she had a fine and fertile 
soil. She possessed an invaluable asset in the steady, sober, 
and industrious character of her people, less given to gusts 
of emotion and passion than either of her neighbours. 
While Greece was unable to settle down to peaceful develop- 
ment for thinking how she might extend the narrow limits 
of her rocky kingdom, while Serbia was fast in the economic 
toils of Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria increased rapidly in 
riches and material power. Alternately courted by Russia 
and Austria-Hungary, she could usually count on financial 
support from Russia ; and when the Powers combined to 
maintain gendarmerie officers in Macedonia, the Russian 
representatives acted as though they had been appointed 
at Sofia. Further, to the Turks, the Greeks and Serbs had 
always had the character of revolutionaries and implacable 
enemies. The Bulgars had been less intractable and owed 
their first step towards nationality to the Turkish plan of 
using them against the other Christian peoples. Thus there 
occurred the extraordinary situation of the Bulgars terrorizing 
parts of the Macedonian country-side with the connivance and 
even sometimes the support of the Turkish governing officials. 

Starting from their legal basis in the tenth clause of the 
Sultan's ^n«^« of 1870, the Bulgars have conducted a con- 
tinuous campaign by fair means or foul to prove that the 
inhabitants of Macedonia are Bulgars. The people them- 
selves did not know what they were. They only knew that 
they lived in a turmoil of warring interests and corrupt 
administration, and longed for a firm and equitable govern- 

To the Treaty of Berlin 6i 

ment. Amongst these people came the agents of the 
Bulgarian Exarchate and a revolutionary committee called 
the ' Internal Organization '. The fairest means which 
they adopted was that of building schools and churches, 
a game at which the Greeks were their equal, while the 
Serbs did their best to emulate them in northern Macedonia, 
and even the Roumanians took a hand. The foulest means 
was the simple terrorization by murder, arson and pillage, 
of those who would not declare themselves Bulgars, or rather 
' Exarchists '. The old race-feud of Bulgar and Greek 
broke out again, bringing with it more misery and uncer- 
tainty of life than ever the Turk had caused. The Bulgarian 
bands descended from the mountains, secretly supported 
from Sofia, with the twofold object of extending their 
national influence, and, by throwing the blame for their 
atrocities on the Turks, of provoking European intervention 
and the cession of Macedonia to Bulgaria. On the body of 
the Bulgarian ' comitadji ' chief, Sfetkoff, who was killed 
in 1905, was found a document ordering that ' any Christian 
who refuses assistance must be killed in such a manner 
that the blame may be thrown upon the forest guard, 
Imam or Dere Bey, and two witnesses must be forthcoming 
who will persuade the court that the murder has been 
committed by some such tyrant \^ Thus many an act of 
brutal violence, which stirred up European wrath against 
the Turk, was really the work of the Bulgar at the expense 
of his fellow Christian. 

The wretched peasant was on the horns of a dilemma. If 

he agreed that he was a Bulgar, the ' comitadji ' band would 

point out that it was his privilege and duty to assist them in 

their noble crusade. They would therefore live at his 

^ Crawfurd Price, The Balkan Cockpit, p. 347. 

62 To the Treaty of Berlin 

expense and trouble him for financial support. If he 
obstinately denied that he was a Bulgar, he might look 
forward with some certainty to attempts on his life, the 
burning of his crops or the destruction of his home. Even 
the educational propaganda of schools and churches, which 
looks such an innocent method of peaceful penetration, was 
pushed by similar means. Let me quote a single case which 
will serve as an example of Bulgarian methods of conversion 
to the Exarchate. It is the evidence of Kostadin George- 
vitch, parish priest of Konyska, near Gyevgyeli, in the 
Vardar valley. ' Up till 1898 or 1899, I don't remember 
exactly, we were all under the authority of the Patriarchate 
(Greek) or, as we say here, we were Grecomaniacs. Then 
came the Bulgarian ' voivoda ' John, a native of Karasula, 
who ordered me to give up the Greek school and to become 
a Bulgarian schoolmaster. If I refused, I should be killed. 
He further ordered me to inform all the peasants that they 
were to submit to the authority of the Exarchate. If they 
didn't, they likewise would be all massacred. Our only 
course, in accordance with his order, was to draw up two 
petitions, one addressed to the Exarch at Constantinople, 
the other to the Kaimakam at Gyevgyeli, asking them to 
attach us to the Exarchate, since we were Bulgars. We 
obeyed the order given to us. Some time later there came 
from Gyevgyeli a Turkish police official, who assembled us 
and put some questions to us. When, under the threats of 
the ' voivoda ' John, the terrified people endorsed the terms 
of their petition, we were made into Bulgars ! ' ^ 

It is hardly surprising that, seeing such methods at work in 
Macedonia, the Serbs and Greeks should have also fitted out 

1 Balcanicus, p. 277. Quoted without reference to any authority. 
But for Bulgarian propaganda see Durham and Upward, &c., passim. 

To the Treaty of Berlin 63 

and encouraged ' comitadji ' bands to protect their kindred 
and to prevent the further spread of Bulgarization, till the 
whole of Macedonia reeled with propaganda. The Bulgars 
have had undoubtedly the best of the competition. They have 
shown themselves by far the best publicity-agents in plead- 
ing their cause before Europe. They have had the greatest 
measure of success in converting the natives of Macedonia. 

Some writers, therefore, argue that the Bulgars have 
established their claim to those parts of the country in which 
the people have expressed their desire to be Bulgarian. To 
the Serbian and Greek contention that this result has been 
produced by liberal expenditure on schools, churches, and 
revolutionary bands, they reply that the fact remains that 
it has been produced. But that is not the end of the matter. 
The effect has been largely accomplished by sheer intimida- 
tion. From which I draw two conclusions ; first, that Bulgaria 
must not enjoy the possession of lands which she has used 
such foul means to obtain, and secondly, that there has been 
no real test of Macedonian feeling. 

I cannot pretend to speak with any authority about the 
true affinities of the Macedonian population. They differ 
from village to village. The people of Ekshisu fired on the 
Serbian troops in August last. The people of other villages 
have welcomed them. Lescovatz village, near Fiorina, is 
Turkish. Batachin is Vlach. If you study books on the 
population you will nearly always find that the author has 
some strong bias. There is no other explanation of the 
extraordinarily different figures and arguments produced.^ 

^ See Appendix. Despite the varied estimates there given there seems 
to be a general agreement among the Bulgarian, Serbian, and German 
writers to put the Greeks at about 200,000 and the Slavs at something 
over a million. 

64 To the Treaty of Berlin 

The people whom one author classes as Serbs another counts 
as Bulgars, while there is no unanimity even about the 
total population ; one cannot argue from names, for a man 
will change his name according to the Power which he is 
seeking to propitiate. Serbian parents named Markovitch 
may have children calling themselves Markov and temporarily 
sound Bulgars ; and vice versa. Language does not settle 
the question, for the Macedonian Slavs speak a dialect 
that is about equally akin to Serbian and Bulgarian, while 
there is a Slav-speaking population who have been for 
centuries under the Greek Patriarchate and are now forced 
to talk Greek. The true Greeks are distinguishable from 
the Slavs by language and physical traits, but they are only 
to be found along the coast, where they predominate in 
the towns, and in the extreme south of Macedonia. The 
normal Macedonian village is Slav, since the Turkish 
minority tends to decrease. And those Slavs would, I believe, 
be quite content in time to be either Serbs or Bulgars, if 
they could be assured of a stable government. If historical 
arguments count for anything, Serbia has the better claim, 
for the mediaeval Serbian empire has left many traces in 
Macedonia in the way of architecture and writings, while 
the short-lived Bulgarian empires covered the country 
only it! the dark ages. The district round Prilep, in fact, is 
the country of Kralyevitch Marko, the Serbian hero, and 
is filled with his churches and monasteries. One interesting 
bit of evidence from local customs is that the Slavs of Mace- 
donia keep up the habit of celebrating their ' Slavas ', or 
feasts of their family patron saints, a habit peculiar to the 
Serbian race, not found amongst the other Slavs and actually 
prohibited before now by the Bulgarian Exarchate as 
contrary to the Orthodox religion. 



To the Treaty of Berlin 65 

One argument remains to be stated, namely the economic. 
The abrupt mountain barriers of the Balkan peninsula make 
communication difficult ; but there are natural lines between 
the hills along which commercial activity can flow. Now 
Macedonia, for the most part, looks towards Salonika as its 
one outlet to the sea. From Salonika runs the corridor of 
the Vardar valley joining Serbia and the Mediterranean 
world. Northern and western Macedonia are necessary 
to Serbia, of which they are a continuation. They could 
only have economic affinities with Bulgaria, if that Power 
held, or had special rights in, Salonika. Eastern Macedonia is 
different. To the country round Kavalla and Seres Serbia 
makes no claim ; and lying round the Struma river, it would 
seem to provide the natural commercial route between 
Sofia and the Aegean, 

• • • • •'• • • • 

I hope that the above short description of the incessant 
and bloodthirsty irregular war that has so long devastated 
Macedonia will have explained certain features of the 
population. Many visitors have expressed surprise at the 
poverty-stricken, unprogressive, unintelligent appearance 
of the people, and the poor use made of the land. But is 
this not to be expected, when for years the peasants have 
lived in a state of uncertainty and haunting terror ? One 
feature of the landscape bears eloquent witness to the 
age-long spirit of fear that has lain like a cloud over Mace- 
donia ; the villages avoid the main roads. All the way 
from Salonika to Banitza, a distance of some 140 kilometres, 
one only passes through the two towns of Yenidje-Vardar 
and Vodena, and no villages, though the road skirts along 
the edge of Vladovo. The peasants have preferred to keep 
out of the publicity of the few thoroughfares. Nor is it 

2071 £ 

66 To the Treaty of Berlin 

strange that the peasant is reluctant to say what is his 
nationality. Ask one of these Macedonians what he is. He 
will, of course, not tell a soldier of the Allies that he is 
a Bulgar. Nor will he be likely to say that he is Serbian or 
Greek. He does not know who may overhear him, or what 
might come of such a declaration, should the Bulgars come 
back. He will probably smile and say that he is Makedonski, 
which is a wise answer and one that has not yet been improved 
upon by the professors and journalists who have studied the 
question. The Macedonian child must have gone through 
a bewildering education in Serbian Macedonia. Starting 
perhaps with being educated as a Greek in a Patriarchist 
school, he then discovered, after the * conversion ' of his 
father and schoolmaster, that he was a Bulgar. Then came 
the Serbian army and annexed the country, whereupon our lad 
found that he was a Serb. Since 191 5, no doubt, his village 
has changed its tune again and he is a Bulgar once more. 

With these sudden changes, with all the uncertainty of 
life and property to which he was subjected by his Turkish 
masters and by the Bulgarian, Serbian, and Greek * comitadji ' 
bands before the recent wars, with the futile, lazy, and 
corrupt government of the Turkish days and its legacy of 
stagnation, the Macedonian peasant has never had a chance. 
The villages behind our lines are now enjoying such a peace 
as they have not known for years, though, of course, commerce 
on an ambitious scale is impossible with the railway monopo- 
lized by the armies and the sea threatened by submarines. 
We will not, therefore, dismiss Macedonia as hopeless. We 
will rather look upon it as a most unfortunate land, which 
it is a part of our mission to endow with peace and good 
government when the end of the war shall bring a new and 
reasonable arrangement of the Balkan States. 

To the Treaty of Berlin 67 

Let me conclude this survey by stating the nature of the . 
settlement made by the Treaty of Berlin in 1878. All the 
trouble of the years 1875-8 began with the rising in Bosnia- ©^^-j |& 
Hertzegovina. The question of those two provinces was 
settled by handing them over to Austro-Hungarian adminis- r^^ 
tration. This was done in spite of the protests of the 
Turkish government, whose continued suzerainty was, never- 
theless, guaranteed. Austria-Hungary further acquired the 
right to maintain troops and to patrol the roads in the 
Sandjak of Novi-Pazar, The population of Bosnia-Hertze- 
govina bitterly resented this change of masters. The 
Mohammedans regretted the departure of their Turkish 
co-religionists. The Serbs loathed the idea of Austro- 
Hungarian domination, and maintained an attitude of 
defiance sometimes breaking out into open rebellion. The 
only element that welcomed the new regime was the Roman 
Catholic minority. But Count Andrassy could congratulate . ^S- 
himself on having successfully taken a long stride towards ^ . - 

the coveted Salonika, by thrusting the Austro-Hungarian -fw b^<*^ 
armies between Serbia and Montenegro, and firmly estab- 
lishing the imperial influence in the western half of the 
Balkans ; Prince Bismarck was glad to see Austria-Hungary 
forgetting her exclusion from Germany and setting her 
face towards the East, where she would be a useful agent 
for German plans and German kultur ; while Mr. Disraeli 
saw in the Austrian advance a substantial check to Russian 

Lord Salisbury afterwards said that at the Congress of 
Berlin we had ' backed the wrong horse '. Yet it is difficult 
to see how else we could have shaped the broad lines of our 
policy. Russia was an aggressive Power, apparently bent 
on challenging our Asiatic interests. Neither Germany nor 

E 2 

68 To the Treaty of Berlin 

Austria-Hungary had yet disclosed their later ambitions 
of expansion. It was natural to curb Russia by means of 
Austria-Hungary. The alternative was the division of 
European Turkey between the Balkan peoples, but Bulgaria 
was an unknown quantity and suspect of being entirely 
under Russian influence. Neither Greece, nor Serbia under 
King Milan, commanded the respect of Europe. Conse- 
quently the Turk remained in Macedonia, Albania, and 
Thrace, The one thing that might have been done at 
Berlin was the provision of means for enforcing those reforms 
in Macedonia which the Sultan promised but never carried 
out. Macedonia remained Turkish and suffered all the 
unrest and misery described above for thirty-four years. 

Bulgaria was reduced to the country between the Danube 
and the Balkan mountains, including a Serbian population 
in its north-western corner, and was given a German prince, 
Alexander of Battenberg, as ruler under the suzerainty of 
Turkey. The world had not yet perceived the possible 
dangers of flooding the Balkans with royalties, chosen from 
the inexhaustible supply of German princely and ducal 

Roumania received a stretch of territory between the 
Danube and the Black Sea, but without the strategic frontier 
to the south, which she demanded and for the sake of which 
she entered the war against Bulgaria in 191 3. 

Montenegro was nearly doubled in size (though that is 
not saying much), and received a tiny strip of coast, but 
without a respectable harbour. 

Lastly, Count Andrassy and the diplomatists granted to 
Serbia complete independence from Turkey, and the dis- 
tricts of Nish, Pirot, Lescovatz, and Vranya, which her 
army had occupied. Serbia thus redeemed a portion of 

To the Treaty of Berlin 69 

her race and injcreased her territory by 50 per cent. I have 
heard King Milan praised on this account by Serbs and 
extolled as a conqueror, building the edifice of Serbian 
expansion and liberation. But, without prejudice to Milan, 
who was in a most difficult position, we may say that the 
net result of the treaty of Berlin was to thrust Serbia further 
into the toils of Austrian hegemony. The Austro-Hungarian 
armies were now on the Serbian frontier from Roumania 
all the way round to Mitrovitza in the Sandjak. Serbia saw 
herself cut off from her sister territory of Bosnia and the 
path^tojhe, Adriatic in a fair way to be closed for ever. She 
was later to find her other neighbours Bulgaria and Turkey 
sold to Vienna. Serbia was in an Austro-Hungarian prison, 
and, if the Treaty of Berlin enlarged the area of that prison, 
it also strengthened the prison-walls, while the exits were 
bolted and barred. 


The Change of Dynasty 

. . . sa dinastiyom Karageorgevttcha, koya ye dala dokaza da se c ideyama 
i ocechayinia ne dvoyi od naroda. . . . Corfu Manifesto, July 29, 1917. 

. . . with the dynasty of Karageorgevitch, which has shown that it 
identifies itself with the thoughts and sentiments of the people . . . 

Since the war began our newspapers have made us famihar 
with the phrase Drang nach OsUn, which means the ' East- 
ward pressure ' of Germany and Austria-Hungary. This 
policy of extending their influence across the Balkans and the 
Turkish dominions has been of late years the main thread in 
the complicated policy of the Central Empires. The Treaty 
of Berlin had brought Austria-Hungary well within Turkish 
territory, and in the next year she formed that close alliance 
with Germany which soon became the Triple Alliance with 
Italy as the third partner, and which has been the source of 
so much alarm and trouble in modern Europe. Firmly based 
on the German alliance, Austria-Hungary proceeded to work 
her way across the peninsula towards Salonika and the 
Aegean Sea. 

Serbian patriots saw with despair that King Milan had no 
intention of opposing the Austrian flood. He himself pro- 
fessed a 5£!^£5L_PP^^^^°^ ^s between Austria-Hungary and 
Russia. He saw that a struggle between these two Great 
Powers must come sooner or later. ' In the coming conflict 
between Germanism and Slavism,' he said, in the course of a 
speech at a 'Slava' on St. Nicholas Day, 1887, 'my intention 
and wish is that Serbia should be neutral.' But in view of 

•|iM f> 

The Change of Dynasty yi 

the continued aggression and intrigue of both her powerful 
neighbours this was precisely what Serbia could not be. In 
fact, she became the vassal of Austria-Hungary. In 1881 
Milan concluded a secret agreement with Austria-Hungary, 
by which he renounced all pretensions to Bosnia-Hertze- 
govina and undertook that Serbia should make no treaties 
with foreign States without Austrian approval. In return for 
placing his country in her enemy's power he received a 
promise that his dynasty should be maintained on the Serbian 
throne. The existence of this private arrangement, which /- f^ 
was not generally known till 1893, explains the ultra- Austrian 
attitude of King Milan — he declared himself king in 1882 — 
during the rest of his reign. When the Serbs of Bosnia rose 
in rebellion in 1882 the Serbian government made no move 
to support them, though many individual Serbs crossed the 
frontier to help their brothers in their desperate bid for 
freedom from the Austrians. 

Austria-Hungary for the next twenty-three years treated 
Serbia as a protectorate of her own. She spoke in Serbia's ^ 
name at international tariff conferences ; she hindered the ^ 
construction of the railway between Serbia and Salonika so 
as to direct almost the whole of Serbia's trade to her own 
territories ; she re-exported Serbian goods in her own name 
so that the origin of Serbia's few products was unknown to 
Europe ; she imposed customs on Serbian commerce at the 
Iron Gates of the Danube, although one bank of the river is 
there Serbian ; while communication between Serbia and 
Bosnia was methodically and meticulously suppressed. Serbia 
had only escaped from the Turkish economic system to be 
swallowed in the Austrian, and the exchange was not even 
commercially beneficial. From 1864 to 1884 Serbia's 
commerce grew in aggregate from 33,000,000 francs to 

72 The Change of Dynasty 

90,000,000 francs. In the next twenty years, 1884 to 1904, 
which we may take as roughly the period of subjection to 
Austria-Hungary, her commerce only rose from 90,000,000 
francs to 127,000,000 francs.-^ 

King Milan even allowed himself to be pushed into war 
with Bulgaria by his Austrian masters, thus thoroughly 
alienating the sympathy of the Bulgars from his own king- 
dom. In 1885 the inhabitants of Eastern Roumelia, which 
was still a Turkish province, suddenly proclaimed themselves 
Bulgarian subjects, and their adherence was accepted by 
Prince Alexander. Milan thereupon denounced the Bul- 
garian government for tearing up the Treaty of Berlin. He 
then inaugurated what has lately been the common Balka 
practice of demanding territorial compensations ; and before 
we condemn him for foolish jealousy, we should remember 
that the Treaty of Berlin had cruelly limited the boundaries 
of Serbia, excluding from her the Serbs both of Old Serbia 
and of western Bulgaria. What we may fairly condemn was 
the foolhardiness of entering on a military adventure with an 
incompetently-led and unprepared army. 

On November 13 Milan declared war, and next day the 
Serbian army advanced along the direct route to Sofia. The 
Bulgars found themselves in a most embarrassing situation. 
Their troops were for the most part along the Roumelian 
frontier prepared to meet a Turkish attack. They had to be 
hurried across to the defence of the capital. But all the 
senior officers of the newly formed Bulgarian army had been 
lent by Russia, and the Emperor xAlexander, resenting Bul- 
garia's independence in absorbing Eastern Roumelia, now 
withdrew them all. Bulgaria was left without an officer 
above the rank of captain. The army, however, was ably 

^ Stojanovitch, p. 139. 

The Change of Dynasty 73 

prepared for action by the junior officers and sergeants, met 
the Serbs on November i8 at Slivnitza, and was completely 
victorious. Pressing their advantage the Bulgars advanced 
into Serbia, and on November 26 appeared before Pirot which 
they occupied next day. Milan asked for an armistice, which 
was refused, and the Bulgars were marching on Nish when 
Baron Khevenhuller, the Austro-Hungarian minister, who 
had urged Milan to make war, hastily arrived at Pirot, and in 
the name of his government insisted on the conclusion of an 
armistice preparatory to peace. Bulgaria had no choice but 
to agree, and a peace was made in the following March which 
left the two States as they had been. The peacemaker, 
Khevenhuller, however, discovered that he had been pre- 
mature ; Austria-Hungary would in fact have had no ob- 
jection to sending troops into Serbia — nominally to support 
her, but actually to become her permanent protector — and 
the Baron was for a long while disgraced as a result of his 
too speedy intervention. 

Serbia had received a nasty blow. Her military reputation 
sank very low and her debt mounted high. Yet it is not fair 
to lay this failure to the account of the people. They had 
had little enthusiasm for the war, and no confidence in their 
leaders, who were rather the king's political supporters than 
military experts. During the armistice Milan himself spoke 
of abdicating, a suggestion which was generally welcomed 
by public opinion ; but the solace which he received from 
Austria-Hungary soon restored his self-confidence, and he 
would have reopened hostilities had not the Skupshtina 
insisted on the conclusion of peace. 

Although the constitution which Milan gave to Serbia in 
1888 was a great advance in democracy, and made the minis- 
ters for the first time really responsible to the Skupshtina, 

74 The Change of Dynasty 

the last years of his reign were a record of futility and 
folly. His wife, the beautiful Queen Natalie, was Russian, 
and naturally opposed to her husband's Austrian connexion. 

fShe also very naturally resented the continual intrigues and 
scandals that destroyed the family life of the palace. This 
domestic discord had its evil effect in the country and dis- 
credited the nation abroad. Serbia was a remote and undis- 
covered corner of the Balkans. All that the ordinary west 
European public knew of her was the unsavoury character of 
her ruler, who dragged his country's good name through the 
dirt of fashionable watering-places and the doubtful quarters 
of the European capitals. So that, when in 1889 Milan 
really did abdicate, his departure was greeted with a sigh of 
relief, despite the lingering affection of some of his subjects 
for their genial monarch. 

His son, Alexander, succeeded to the throne at the age of 
thirteen. It was a difficult position for the unfortunate boy. 
The only son of his father, without near relatives, he was the 
last hope of the house of Obrenovitch. His childhood had 
been spent amongst the storms of domestic and political strife. 
His boyhood was now devoted to excessive study under the 
guidance of M. Ristitch and other counsellors. The pressure 
of over-work, combined with the gloomy atmosphere of 
suspicion and intrigue with which he was surrounded, pro- 
bably retarded his mental development and narrowed his 
sympathies. Alexander grew up heavy, silent, melancholy, 
without friends, a lonely and very pitiful figure. Suspecting 
plots on all sides and seeing nothing but selfish factions in the 
new democratic regime^ he naturally turned for protection to 
his parents. Milan and Natalie had separated, but neither 
had completely severed their connexion with Serbia, where 
Milan was still nominally the commander-in-chief of the 

The Change of Dynasty 



army. They used to visit Belgrade alternately for some years 
until they both agreed to leave the country and allow their 
son to work out his own destiny. 

The young prince began by declaring himself of age in 
1893 and arresting his ministers one night when they were j. 

dining with him. He followed this up by annulling the new ^"^ 
constitution and entering on a royalist and Austnan c ourse 
of policy. In 1897 King Milan returned to Serbia and added 
his disturbing presence to the many warring elements already 
there. Into such confusion had the affairs of the country 
drifted that the Serbs even tolerated the very imprudent step 
which Alexander took in 1900. Having gone to see his 
mother at Biarritz, he fell madly in love with Draga Mashin, 
one of the late queen's ladies-in-waiting. The fact that 
Madame Mashin was the divorced wife of a Serbian officer 
by no means exhausted the seamier side of her past life. 
Also she was considerably older than the king. A marriage 
with a person of such character was vigorously opposed by 
Alexander's parents, his ministers, and his friends, who 
declared further that Draga was incapable of bearing a child, 
a vital necessity to the Obrenovitch dynasty. Such opposi- 
tion only strengthened Alexander's determination, and at 
first the marriage had the happy result that the new queen 
absolutely forbade her husband's father to re-enter Serbia. 
But Draga was soon seen to be no saviour of her country. 
She irritated the army by the favours she procured for her 
two young brothers, the country by the Austrian intrigues 
in which she took part. The strict censorship of the press, 
the reactionary policy of the government, the serious con- 
dition of the national finances combined to disgust the Serbs 
with their king. The students of Belgrade rioted and 
demonstrated ; but there was no movement of a national 


76 The Change of Dynasty 

character. The crash came suddenly in June 1903 when the 
famous double murder of Alexander and Draga by a clique 
of officers ended the dishonoured and unpopular dynasty. 

The story of that night of the loth of June is a sickening bit 
of mediaeval barbarity. The gang of officers secured control 
of the palace and proceeded to search for the doomed couple. 
The darkness, their own drunken excitement, and the efforts 
of one or two loyal officers prolonged the hunt. Finally the 
.j^jP king and queen were discovered in a little dressing-room with 
\ \*r ^ hidden door. They were retiring for the night when their 
enemies burst in on them. Alexander threw himself before 
his wife and was riddled with bullets. The conspirators then 
murdered Draga and proceeded to mutilate the bodies. The 
queen's two brothers were also killed, and some of the court 
officials who were committed to the cause of the late king. 

All had happened suddenly and the nation was faced with 
a fait accompli. In the Balkans violent and brutal methods 
. do not outrage public opinion to the same extent as they 

i!r would do in Western Europe, The Serbs felt that what had 

been done had been done, and, however it had happened, 
they were well rid of the Obrenovitch. Events also continued 
to move rapidly. Eight days after the murder Prince Peter 
Karageorgevitch, son of Prince Alexander (1842-58), had 
been fetched from his retirement at Geneva. Already on 
June 15 he was proclaimed king by the unanimous vote of 
the national assembly. Before an awkward crisis had time to 
develop, or Austria-Hungary could see an opportunity to 
intervene, King Peter was installed, to the great relief of the 
nation. It was felt that the period of vassalage to Vienna was 
finished. It was hoped that the bad days of faction, intrigue, 
and personal monarchy had also come to an end. Miss 
Durham passed through Serbia in the following December 

The Change of Dynasty 77 

and records how a peasant in the train said to her, * Now we 
have a king who is as good as yours, and Serbia will have her 
own again \^ 

The new king had had more than his share of exile. Forty- ^t-^Uf^ 
five years before he had left Serbia after the revolution which *^ * j 
had dethroned his father. Unlike the previous princely exiles rrcWA 
he had found a home and a career in France, and with him . . >^ ^^^^^ 
French influence and culture entered Serbia. He had 
followed the profession of arms, passed through the military 
school of St. Cyr, and fought as a lieutenant of the French 
army through the Franco-Prussian War in which he was 
wounded and decorated. He had also fought for the national 
cause in the Bosnian insurrection of 1876. Though a soldier 
by training and inclination he had also used his time to study 
the thought and institutions of Europe, and was the author 
of a Serbian translation of Mill's '